Give free size a try


POSTED: Thursday, March 25, 2010

Valerie Ragaza-Miao always had it in her business plan to launch a brand to coincide with her Valerie Joseph boutique. That plan became reality sooner than expected, and her spring collection arrived in the boutique Monday, just in time for Ala Moana Center's Shop A Le'a events.

She'll be presenting the collection during the boutique's “;Spring Fever Fashion Remedies”; at 4 p.m. Sunday on Centerstage.

With the collection comes an introduction to Asian market free sizing, or what we would call a one-size approach to dressing, which does away with shopping by numbers.

“;It's common in Asia where clothes are not sized, but it's very different for all of the United States,”; Ragaza-Miao said. “;It forces women to pay more attention to style than the size of garments.

“;During the fashion show, we're not going to have the typical 6-foot model, but girls of all sizes and body types — curvy girls, short girls — and you'll see how one style can suit many different body types.

“;The challenge has been to communicate this idea, and we've gotten great aha! moments from customers once they've tried things on,”; Ragaza-Miao said. “;We've been conditioned to shop by numbers and forgotten to consider what styles we should be looking for.”;

Among designs featured are babydoll dresses that skim the body and can be cinched on a smaller girl, or that offer a loose, billowy fit for a larger woman. There are also elastic waist dresses that also expand to fit, and sweaters that offer a slouchy boyfriend fit or a “;Mad Men”; hourglass fit, depending on one's body type.






        4 p.m. Sunday Ala Moana Centerstage


Admission is free; call 942-5258


After the show stop by the Valerie Joseph boutique, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., for a diva shoes trunk show by Deuces Hawaii, refreshments, a 25-percent-off BOGO sale and the chance to meet body-paint artist Dr. Wiz. Also, during Shop A Le'a, through Sunday, schedule a free body and color type analysis (942-5258) and receive a VJ beauty pouch for $5.


From a purely business standpoint, free sizing is more cost-effective than carrying multiples in separate sizes, and the move represents one of the changes at Valerie Joseph in response to the economy.

Creating a Valerie Joseph-branded line was “;something I wanted to do down the road, but the economy forced us to be more creative in what we offer to the consumer,”; Ragaza-Miao said. “;All the boutiques here go to the same places in L.A., so there's not a variety of styles offered in the islands. We went out on a limb, to the other end of the world to bring back something different.”;

The Valerie Joseph boutique will move into a new space two doors down from its current space on April 1 (no joke, she says, with renovations on schedule), to exclusively showcase the Valerie Joseph concept, with only a few L.A. labels to fill the gaps.

Her designs feature an L.A.-meets-Asia aesthetic that is equal parts street savvy and girly. “;That's the direction we're moving, marrying both ends of the world to provide that diversity,”; she said.

“;It's definitely a process and wasn't easy, but it feels good to be able to create something special for Hawaii.”;


Boutique owner offers marketing students real world experience

Valerie Ragaza-Miao of Valerie Joseph promises the experience of a lifetime through an internship program she's offering in conjunction with the University of Hawaii.

She's just launched her P*I*N*C (Partners Inspiring Nouvelle Concepts) Marketing Internship Program, that will give five interns an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the fashion retail industry by helping to plan and stage a charitable fashion event to take place in the fall.

“;It's something I've been wanting to do for some time because there's such a big need for a program like this,”; she said. “;A lot of programs are administration-oriented and don't involve hitting the pavement, so when these students do start working, it's a big surprise. A lot of people don't realize what it takes to put on events like these with a budget of zero.

“;They'll learn how to think strategically, learn to plan, be inspired, innovate and initiate.”;

It's a work tactic she's learned through experience.

An admitted workaholic, who's looking for the same self-motivation and entrepreneurial spirit from her interns, she said, “;For me, it's always been, 'What do I need to do? Do it now!' It's utilizing your resources, and you never know what you're able to do until you do it.”;

The UH credit internship is unpaid, but participants will have access to all employee perks, including an employee discount. The program will run 12 weeks, roughly from May 23 to Aug. 15, with the interns working together as a team.

To apply, submit a resume, two referral forms and two letters of recommendation to Valerie Joseph boutique, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd. No. 1244, Honolulu 96814, Attention: PINC. Call 942-5258, or download an application from The deadline to apply is April 30.

Although this particular internship is for UH students, she also offers a Community Assistant Program and, due to teachers' suggestions, is planning to offer a high school program in the future.


Body art to take Centerstage at Valerie Joseph fashion show

Models in the Valerie Joseph fashion show Sunday at Ala Moana Centerstage will be wearing more than clothes. They'll also be dressed in body art by Dr. Wiz, aka Erwin Baracao.

Baracao, a former graffiti artist and a Web company art director by day, was asked to consider body painting by a promoter friend, and after his first party success last summer, continues to create body art three to four nights a week at clubs around town.

He'll be giving demonstrations of his work during an in-store event at the Valerie Joseph boutique, following her 4 p.m. fashion show.

His freestyle creations are a fusion of tattoo and street art, and he said he loves the interaction with his human canvases. His designs are fueled, in part, by the wearer's style, energy and personality.

Dr. Wiz uses non-toxic acrylic paints for his work, with results that last about four hours.

In spite of the ephemeral nature of body art, Dr. Wiz says he still has the satisfaction of seeing his canvases walk away happy. “;It's something they want to show off so they take pictures, and due to social networking, I can see my work posted to their Facebook pages. There's a memory that I did paint that person.”;