By Kent Coules, Publisher
“‘Pili’ means to ‘be joined and connected,’” says Herman Pi‘ikea Clark, Jr., “and it has similar meanings in many Polynesian languages. It is this connection throughout the Pacific of deep-rooted traditions in culture, value, family, and lifestyle that embody our unique designs.
“We” is Clark, a Native Hawaiian raised in Hawai‘ i, and his wife, Sue Pearson, a Norfolk Islander of Tahitian descent. They met at a Pacific artists’ gathering in 1995 and currently reside in New Zealand and Hawai‘i.
Pearson and Clark both have formal fine art training and started experimenting with textile printing on Norfolk Island, employing ancient pacific printing techniques. While delivering commissioned fine art pieces for Neiman Marcus Ala Moana store, Herman was spotted by the national men’s wear buyer. He was wearing a shirt, handprinted by Sue and sewn by her aunty. The store buyer asked, “Can you make us 1,000 of those shirts?’ Herman said, ‘No, but we could try 100.’” A brand was born in 1999 and refined over the next 15 years at Neiman Marcus.
Since inception, Pili Pacific shirts have been conceived and produced in small limited editions. Each Contemporary Pacific design begins as hand-rendered artwork influenced by cultural heritage found throughout the Pacific. Respecting the traditional design and printmaking processes of their ancestors, Pili Pacific follows the same labor-intensive methods while joining modern techniques in craftsmanship. Pili Pacific uses the finest fabrics and materials available. Each piece in their limited run collections are made from premium softened European linen, luxurious silk, and hand-engraved smoked mother of pearl buttons.
“We only trust a small group of highly skilled craftsmen with decades of experience to hand cut and sew each piece. Only when a completed shirt is inspected and meets our high standards, do we allow our label and individually numbered 1/111 edition tags to be proudly sewn into a Pili Pacific Shirt. That print will never be produced again. Our women’s line is produced in even more exclusive quantities,” says Clark.
In May, Pili Pacific opened their first standalone store at the Ward Centre. They’ve expanded their handmade offerings to include silk scarves, jewelry and selected homewares. “We created the space to provide our guests with an enriched design experience,” says Herman. “Our intention is to share with our customers beautiful expressions of Hawaiian and Pacific.” You won’t see just shirts and dresses. You’ll behold heritage inspired, artist crafted, contemporary Pacific designs.
Pili Pacific is at the Ward Centre in Kaka‘ako. Open 10-8 Monday-Thursday, 10-9 Friday-Saturday and 10-6 Sunday. Their website is PiliPacific.com. Experience the Limited-Edition Luxury Collection.
This story is a Paid Advertisement, appearing in the December 2019 print edition of This Week Oahu
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