Honolulu Street Style
Intellect Ltd, 2014
200 pp., $31.50
Fashion on the Street
I was 14 years old when I first went to Hawaii, a spring break trip for our family of five to descend on the white sand beaches of Honolulu from our snow-white house in the suburbs of Chicago. Style was the first thing on my mind and the last on my family's; they embarrassed me all week long in their Tommy Bahama Island shirts (Dad) and too-casual sweatpants worn to dinner (Mom). I was so busy being embarrassed by their getups that I didn't look around to see what the locals were wearing.
Things have changed, of course, since 1999. In Honolulu Street Style, Malie Moran, Attila Pohlmann, and Andrew Reilly give us a glimpse into the city's diversity and island-urban aesthetic. "Diversity" is not just a buzzword here: no single ethnic group composes a majority in the Island State, "the result of a continuing influx of people who leave their homelands and seek a new life in the Hawaiian Islands." Some of these people came for a new life working on Hawaii's vast fields of sugar cane and pineapple plantations. Others came as missionaries from Europe and America. Residents of Micronesia have fled their sinking islands in droves, landing on Hawaii's shores due to its proximity both in geography and environment to their disappearing homeland.
The writing isn't great—"The ying-yang tattoo on his bicep provides an added aesthetic," for instance—but the glory of the book is its ample gallery of photos in situ: a young woman poses in front of a storefront, two friends stand side-by-side in a parking lot, a man in an orange tank top reclines at an outdoor art studio. The point is to capture Honolulu fashions in their natural habitat.
Books like these have their detractors. Fashion reporter Suzy Menkes wrote about Scott Schuman, photographer behind the style site The Sartorialist: "This photographer of 'real people' has spawned legions of imitators, just as the editors who dress for attention are ...