Step into history’s first Native Hawaiian stiletto


At the runway show for Manaola Hawaii’s latest Spring/Summer 2016 collection, designer Manaola Yap sent a piece of history down the runway: Hawaii’s first luxury-end shoe collection.

The newly-launched women’s heel collection is infused with the same Native Hawaiian storytelling-driven patterns as the rest of his original womenswear and menswear designs.

Of the shoe line, the highlight is the Manaola stiletto, which the label is calling a historic achievement in Hawaiian fashion as the brand continues its mission to bridge the divide between Hawaii’s authentic cultural traditions and the mainstream fashion industry at-large.

This pattern, niho ai kalakala, takes its inspiration from the teeth of the mano (shark). In the waters off the harbor flats of Pahonu on Hawaii Island, jagged lava rock formations can be seen breaching the surface as the waves crash and recede, revealing shapes reminiscent of the sacred marine animal.

“I want to show that Hawaii has so much story, so much to tell, and so much to offer the fashion industry,” says Yap. “That it’s so much more than just a garment on a hanger. It’s a garment steeped in tradition, culture, heart and soul, so, when you put it on, it elevates you.”

The use of lambskin, suede and leather with this shoe collection also leads the way for other Manaola goods. The S/S 2016 collection marks the arrival of a men’s leather and canvas bag collection, another first for the label that has taken over the Hula Lehua store in the Ala Moana Center as its exclusive retailer only a month after debuting its summer collection this past June.

Originally from Hawaii Island, Yap recently relocated full time to Oahu’s more urban setting, part of which inspired this latest collection and move into designing heels.

“Just from being here, I’ve been able to progress and adapt to styles that can be used in the city,” he says. “My couture pieces are a little more swanky, Honolulu-ish. I’m inspired by the business women here and where their fashion is concerned.”

Learn more about Yap’s designs in HAWAII Magazine’s upcoming January/February 2016 issue.

Categories: Culture, Shopping