HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — Big Island fashion designer Sharayah Chun-Lai takes inspiration from everything around her and transforms it into clothing and accessories under her iconic brand, Ola Hou Designs.
“My way of designing is based on my family, my friends, my culture, my life, my love. That’s what I do as a designer. I take that and make these prints a story,” she said.
Chun-Lai developed her sense of fashion as a little girl dressing up and watching her grandmother get ready.
“I watched her get ready from head to toe, watched her put on her clothes, her skirts, her jackets, her shoes, match everything from jewelry, from head to toe. I absolutely loved it. I would sit there in awe, watching her style herself,” she said.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion design and merchandising at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, then opened her clothing line.
“I was able to release my first collection in 2019,” she said.
Through it all, she kept her eye on the jackpot.
“I would say to my family, ‘If I could ever go to New York Fashion Week, that would be the ultimate goal,'” she said.
That goal came true when she got a call inviting her to showcase her aloha outfit on Runway 7 at Sony Hall during Fashion Week next week.
Reps for Runway 7 told her they follow her via Instagram and her website and were impressed with her unique designs and the stories they tell.
Next Wednesday is her big day in Times Square and she’s excited and nervous.
“I really wanted to show that I can do more and I can bring that fashion side and that high-end fashion side to the runway. I’m glad people see that,” she said.
Chun-Lai balances her design work with being a wife and mother.
Other Native Hawaiian fashion designers have presented at Fashion Week, but she is the first Native Hawaiian woman to accept an invitation to Runway 7.
“I’m honored,” she said.
Chun-Lai will bring along a team of assistants, models and hula dancers to help tell her story, and the eyes of the fashion design world will be watching.
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