Micah Kamohoali’i Brings Native Hawaiian Fashion to the Global Stage

When Native Hawaiian fashion designer Micah Kamohoali‘i was first asked to participate in New York Fashion Week in 2021, he had one question: Could he bring his own models? While most designers tend to use the models and makeup provided by Fashion Week staff, Kamohoali‘i—the first Native Hawaiian to ever be invited to New York Fashion Week—ruled out that option from the get-go. In a testament to his deep love for his culture, he believed it was imperative that his models be Hawaiian, because Kamohoali‘i’s clothes are more than just clothes—they’re a reflection of his roots at large. And he knew that showing them to a global audience was a rare opportunity to correct harmful plastic-lei-and-coconut-bra stereotypes by introducing the fashion world to the beauty of the Hawaiian story.

Native Hawaiian fashion designer Micah Kamohoali‘i.

Native Hawaiian fashion designer Micah Kamohoali‘i.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Kamohoali’i)

“When I got invited to Fashion Week, I immediately knew it wasn’t about me—it was about my whole community,” he says. “I knew I had to bring my own models because it was important to me that there were Native Hawaiians on that runway.” 

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