Maui Business

Designers Create ‘Cabin[to]Couture’ With Hawaiian Airlines

November 19, 2015, 8:49 AM HST
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HonCC student designs

Hawaiian Airlines photo.

Hawaiian Airlines rejuvenated the cabin of its Boeing B717 aircraft earlier this year with modern, lightweight seats, recycling the old, unused seat fabric into stylish garments and accessories, with help from graduates of Honolulu Community College’s Fashion Technology Program and other designers.

The creations will be on display to the public starting Friday during HONOLULU Fashion Week Presented by Hawaiian Airlines.

Graduates of Honolulu Community College’s Fashion Technology Program and participating designers from The Cut Collective + Creative Lab’s Fashion Immersive Program welcomed the airline’s Cabin[to]Couture project as a platform to showcase their skills using exclusive seat materials.

“I got a call from Hawaiian Airlines asking if we had any students or alumni that could do an upcycle challenge, and I thought, with what?” asked Joy Nagaue, professor of the Fashion Technology Program at Honolulu Community College. “They explained that student designers would be given first and coach class seat covers to create wearable clothing. I accepted—our students can do anything! I’m overjoyed they’ve been given this great opportunity.”

In March, Hawaiian began retrofitting its Neighbor Island fleet with a modern redesign featuring lightweight main cabin seats from Acro Aircraft Seating Ltd. The partnership with HonCC and The Cut Collective to repurpose large amounts of unused seat material was viewed as a fun and creative way to demonstrate social and environmental responsibility.


“Fashion and design have always been deep-rooted in the Hawaiian Airlines brand,” said Alisa Onishi, director of brand management at Hawaiian Airlines. “This project allows us to give back to our local community through education in a very unique and original way.”


“Each day, our flights take many travelers on the vacation of their dreams throughout our islands,” Onishi added. “Now, our unused seats are supporting a different kind of dream for up-and-coming designers in our community.”

Seven designers were asked to create wearable fashion and accessories from 19 First Class and 23 Main Cabin seats and headrests. The designers’ inspiration range from the early looks of flight attendants to intricate shapes within the seats themselves.

Participants of the Hawaiian Airlines upcycling project include:

  • CHAI LIM, 2013 HonCC Fashion Technology Program Graduate Inspired by the notion of air and flying, Lim’s garment is represented by an airy, flowing short skirt paired with a clean, structured strapless top. Lim works at Tori Richards, a resort lifestyle clothing line, as a Gerber pattern technician. “It’s an honor to be selected for this challenge!” said Lim, who viewed Hawaiian Airlines Cabin[to]Couture project as a way of giving back to the community and the program that helped him pursue his passion.
  • JACKY LAU, 2013 HonCC Fashion Technology Program Graduate Lau was inspired by the shapes within the seat covers and created a futuristic tail jacket paired with fitted cargo pants lined with pocket details. “I’ve been intrigued with design due to my interest in Cosplay,” said Lau, a sales associate at Macy’s.
  • RANDY ORIBELLO, 2014 HonCC Fashion Technology Program Graduate Oribello’s womenswear “patchwork” bustier is layered with strips of main cabin seat covers paired with a short skirt and peplum. “I describe my design style as historical vintage chic. My pieces are modern, wearable and have structure. For this project I have constructed a corset mixing both the first and the coach class seat material,” said Oribello, who works in the costume department at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa on O‘ahu’s West Coast.
  • CHANTERELLE CHANTARA, Fashion Immersive Participant Chantara’s designs were inspired from her memories of the 2014 HONOLULU Fashion Week, which presented 85 years of Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant uniforms. “My vision is to incorporate the fabric into sophisticated garments that bring fresh ideas while evoking Hawaiian’s fashion history,” she said.
  • EMIKO MIYAZAWA, Fashion Immersive Participant Miyazawa is the owner of M33Ms jewelry designs. Her design is a durable, easy access fanny pack with flaps that fold over the front. “I was inspired to make a modern style fanny pack using the leather seat covers, from the need to always be hands free when I’m traveling,” she explained.
  • JANA LAM, Fashion Immersive Participant Lam is owner of textile studio and accessories brand Jana Lam. Her piece, the Weekender Travel Tote, is an extension of her popular line of totes and clutches. It will feature printed flower patterns and complimentary color palettes. “I decided to create a tote design that is simple and classic and, of course, suitable for travel,” she said. “I was inspired by the colors of the iconic Hawaiian Airlines logo.”
  • LIZZY CHITAMITRE, Fashion Immersive Participant Chitamitre was inspired by the sophistication of Hawaiian Airlines’ flight attendants of yesteryear. She designed a cocktail dress that flows seamlessly from work into the evening. “Hawaiian Airlines has always been about creating a unique environment for their passengers. It is an honor for me to design a piece for an airline with such rich history of Hawaiian fashion,” she said.

HONOLULU Fashion Week Presented by Hawaiian Airlines runs Nov. 20 through 22 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center with the opening of the HONOLULU Fashion Week Marketplace—a free event where guests can shop from 50 local designers, beauty bars and sponsor booths.


On Nov. 21, international celebrity designers will showcase capsule collections at Hawaiian Airlines’ Runway to Runway Fashion Show, a concept inspired by fashionable destinations serviced by Hawaiian Airlines.

The designer lines are: Todd Snyder from New York, ELLERY from Sydney, LIE SANGBONG from Seoul, South Korea, AULA from Tokyo, and Hawai‘i’s own Kaypee Soh.

Visit the Hawaiian Airlines Flickr page for a behind-the-scenes look at Chai Lim, Jacky Lau and Randy Oribello’s design process.

Launched in 2014, HONOLULU Fashion Week Presented by Hawaiian Airlines is a first-of-its-kind fashion event in Hawaii highlighting local and national design talent and fashion. The three-day event was created by HONOLULU Magazine to showcase Hawai‘i’s unique fashion talents joined by world-renowned fashion designers, stylists, and industry experts.

For more information on HONOLULU Fashion Week, visit

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