Jul 22, 2016
A Collective Approach to Retail
Local clothing designers and stylists Summer Shiigi and Allison Izu are committed to bringing apparel manufacturing back to the Islands.
Recently, the duo–both of whom have their own apparel line–launched a new retail storefront and design studio, The Collective, right here in Ward Village. In the interview below, Summer chimes in on her new boutique / studio, what the future may hold for made-in-Hawaii clothing, and how she envisions their collective brands growing in the coming years.
Before we dig into the interview, can you start by telling me a little bit about yourself?
I'm a local stylist and clothing designer of the brand Ten Tomorrow. I'm also the cofounder of the new store called The Collective in Ward Warehouse, with my partner Allison Izu Song, designer of Allison Izu.
How did you and your partner, Allison, get to know each other and become partners?
Allison and I met back in 2013 while I was styling. We collaborated on a blog to promote her brand and I took her pieces to my personal styling clients. We actually shared a need for office space back then and organically the concept for The Cut Collective grew into something real. We are incredibly passionate about promoting our local fashion industry and helping to see it succeed in as many ways we can.
As a follow up to the last question, can you describe the initial iteration of your business, The Cut Collective?
The Cut Collective started as a shared workspace concept and grew into a company that managed development (patterning, sampling, etc.) and manufacturing for many designers and/or companies. We've helped several different types of brands from menswear to corporate uniforms. The biggest thing we learned is that Hawaii is thriving with talent and the fashion industry is really going to grow into something worldwide (hopefully sooner rather than later). We hope to continue supporting that growth through our own brands or otherwise. The Cut Collective has evolved into a resource center and we offer consulting for anyone, whether it's emerging designers or existing brands who may need help.
When it comes to manufacturing in the Islands—whether it's apparel, technology, or engines—so much of it is now done overseas. Why do you think it's important to continue to build and make things in this state?
We are truly dedicated to a made-in-Hawaii product because we believe in supporting local. Manufacturing isn't where it used to be back in it's heyday, but we are constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible to be made here as far as textiles are concerned. Our new space showcases how our brands are made from start to finish by real people right here in Hawaii. Our customers really appreciate the dedication that goes into producing in Hawaii; it's harder and sometimes more expensive, but it allows us to be hands on and sell things that mean something more.
Now onto the latest incarnation of your business, The Collective. Can you please describe the storefront, backstory, and evolution of the business?
The Collective was born out of the growth and success of our own brands, Allison Izu, and Ten Tomorrow. We outgrew our original space and moved into Ward Warehouse which has double the square footage. The space features a small retail shop in the front where we sell our 100 percent made-in-Hawaii clothing, and the back is our design workspace. We are incredibly grateful for being in Ward Warehouse and having the opportunity to showcase the behind-the-scenes magic that goes into building a brand for all of our customers. We encourage customers to ask for a tour so they can see all the things that happen or get sneak-peeks at upcoming designs.
You've only recently moved in, but it seems like the reaction has been very positive so far.
We opened doors on June 13th but celebrated our grand opening just this past weekend on July 9th. So far we've been amazed with the response. Our customers are so happy to have a place to pop in any time. We're lucky to have such a great following to help support us in the move. We're also slowly getting to know our new neighborhood and are excited to introduce ourselves to new clientele and tourists.
How do you see the business growing and unfolding in the coming years?
We started The Collective as a test to see what retail can do for our own brands and so far we love it. We hope to see some major expansion! We would love to continue to grow this retail model while working hard to wholesale into different markets. Allison is now sold nationally in the Midwest and my brand is joining her in Nordstrom Hawaii and Bloomingdales in the next couple months. Keep your fingers crossed to more success and representation!
As Ward Village continues to develop, with more new restaurants, shops and residential towers opening, how does it feel to be a part of this expanding community?
We are beyond thrilled with the development that's happening here. Ward Village has really become a champion for involving local businesses in their expansion and we can't wait to see how we can all support and grow together.
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