As a way to give back to the Native Hawaiian community in tandem with his meteoric rise through the fashion industry, fashion designer Manaola Yap has partnered with Kamehameha Schools to launch a new philanthropic project.
Hale Kua was established to honor Manaola’s commitment to Native Hawaiian artistry and promote indigenous entrepreneurship for generations to come. As a kua, or backbone, the Hale Kua organization will provide a kāhua (foundation) on which Native Hawaiian culture and creativity can thrive.
KS’ Innovation team had the honor of facilitating the project design, which offers an innovative approach to youth mentorship. Through workshops and hands-on educational experiences, Hale Kua will cultivate art grounded in Hawaiian traditions and inspire the entrepreneurial spirit in aspiring kānaka artists.
KS Director of Strategy Development Kanakolu Noa hopes that the unique collaboration between Manaola Hawai‘i and KS will “inspire future efforts for KS to support and commit to working with Native Hawaiian entrepreneur leaders who are socially minded and have a strong connection to our values, Hawaiian cultural traditions, and the Native Hawaiian community.”
In alignment with KS’ Vision 2040 of building a thriving lāhui, Hale Kua aims to fulfill nā hopena (outcomes) of KS’ Innovation framework, including ‘ōiwi leadership, socio-economic well-being and social restoration.
Hale Kua is the Hawaiian term for a “beating house” in which kapa was produced and adorned by skilled artists using ‘ohe kāpala (bamboo stamps). The intricate hand-carved designs and patterns portrayed tales of Hawai‘i’s traditions and have become essential components throughout Manaola’s designs today.
Manaola’s new Spring/Summer 2018 Kōlani couture “resort wear” collection will debut at Saks Fifth Avenue on Saturday to coincide with the launch of Hale Kua. The line represents a milestone for fashion as Manaola is the first Native Hawaiian designer to present an exclusive collection for Saks.