While most men might be curious mainly about golf, activities or entertainment when they consider Hawaii vacations, most women certainly want to know about the shopping.
When thinking of the world’s great shopping districts, the Champs-Elysées in Paris, Oxford Street in London, Fifth Avenue in New York and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills usually come to mind. Here’s a caution: Things change. Champs-Elysées, for example, has degenerated into a neon strip of fast food chains, banks, offices, malls, and film houses. Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Avenue Montaigne, Rue du Cherche-Midi and Rue de Grenelle now are among the fashionable shopping destinations in Paris.
Oxford remains Europe’s busiest shopping street, and Rodeo Drive is still the most famous shopping district in America (and probably the most expensive three blocks of shops in the world). Fifth Avenue also continues to be one of the world’s premier shopping streets.
But suddenly, Waikiki – yes, Waikiki – has joined the ranks of those elite and influential shopping locations.
Here is some recent testimony for that observation:
Tokidoki, a global phenomenon with boutiques offering their cutesy printed bags, apparel, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, jewelry and toys are appearing just about everywhere. Italian designer Simone Lengo, who created the brand (Yes, Tokidoki is Italy-bred), recently appeared at the Ala Moana Nordstrom to launch a new shoe.
Manny Mashouf, founder of bebe, the high-trend women’s wear chain, appeared at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center to launch a new flagship store cum art gallery. Local artists and designers actually can work there and display their products.
John Fussell, Chanel’s national make-up artist, offered free consultations at Nordstrom, which houses one of only three Chanel makeup studios in the U.S.
Clinton Kelly, he of the TLC network’s “What Not to Wear,” appeared at Macy’s in Ala Moana to host a fashion tutorial and a runway show and to showcase emerging trends and wardrobe essentials.
So exactly where are these marvelous brands and outlets? Well, Waikiki actually is a pretty-small area. It’s an easily-negotiated walk from the Diamond-Head end to the Ala Moana end, and you’ll pass several outlets – Nike, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, for example – that are stand-alones (not in shopping centers or malls).
Here are the centers you’ll want to browse for sure: Ala Moana Center is Hawaii’s largest and most comprehensive shopping destination with 230 stores and restaurants, entertainment and an international food court, and it’s the largest open-air shopping center in the world. Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom are in there; so are Sears and Macy’s.
The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center offers you famous-outlet shopping, local stores and international outlets, multi-ethnic dining and local entertainment. You can get involved hands-on with complimentary cultural enrichment classes including ukulele, lei-making, hula, and Hawaiian quilting.
The International Market Place, created more than 50 years ago as a central pedestrian shopping village under the shade of an historic banyan tree, has grown into a busy, exciting bazaar of small shops, food stands, Polynesian entertainment, restaurants, art galleries and a storytelling theatre. As Waikiki continues to evolve, the sense of its Hawaiian heritage is sustained here.
DFS Galleria Waikiki’s ambience is a recreation of the Waikiki of the 1920s and features one-of-a-kind theme shops. There’s an impressive walk-through aquarium and usually live entertainment. If you’re on your way back from Asia (or are an international traveler) on your visit, there’s duty-free shopping for the world’s best brands.
And here’s the current star of the neighborhood. Nearly eight acres along centrally-located Lewers Street has been completely rebuilt and the made-over area has become a colorful and spirited showcase known as Waikiki Beach Walk. It’s full of world-famous shops and distinguished restaurants, and can honestly be characterized as a world-class leisure destination.
Bring an extra suitcase or two with you. You’ll be able to fill em in a day from the venues in Waikiki.