12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
A dozen days of gift ideas
CRAIG T KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Tracy Shiraishi and his girlfriend Emily Ledbetter model Shiraishi's T-shirts. The two are partners in marketing the Roketo Clothing line.
Roketo shirts reflect designer's ethos
SECOND OF 12 PARTS
TRACY SHIRAISHI named his T-shirt line, Roketo Clothing, after the Japanese word for rocket. He picked the name for what it implied: "the whole technology thing and an adaptation of Western culture."
His designs have a traditional art-school vibe, but the business is based on warm and fuzzy feelings. "I think I have some kind of weird, nostalgic affinity toward T-shirts. Maybe it has to do with growing up in Hawaii and how everyone wore those Local Motion and HIC shirts to school every day.
"Sadly, to this day, I still only have two shirts with a collar. I wear them to weddings."
He also respects the potential of a T-shirt to communicate a message. "Besides having a consistent aesthetic, I think it's important for the designs to have substance. ... (They) aren't intended to be political. They're more like objective reflections of interesting ideas. They come from a variety of sources: sociology and anthropology, psychology, history, science, etc."
The designs are also on limited runs, "which is good because there's less chance there'll be someone else wearing the same shirt as you in class or on the bus or something."
A portion of each sale is set aside to donate to organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii. Shiraishi is also following his social conscience, using organic cotton and fair-labor production techniques.
"We've learned that it's sometimes difficult to balance the necessary pragmatics of doing business with those goals, especially since we're just starting out, but we feel like it's the right way to do things. We're hoping that if we stay true to that, things will work out."
Roketo T-shirts are available at Modern Amusement, 449 Kapahulu Ave. (738-2769); Sera's Surf N' Shore, Ala Moana Center (949-7828); and online at roketo.com.