Okotokoto colorblock kaftan dress. PHOTO BY ZEN MORIYA
In the small village of Holualoa on the Kona coast, Japanese-born designer Miho Aoki finds endless inspiration in her own backyard. She felt called to the wild indigo growing on the property she moved to with her family after trading life in New York City for a decidedly slower, more nature-focused life on Hawai‘i Island. She pairs the indigo with dyes made from her mature avocado tree and abundant ‘olena (Hawaiian turmeric) to color the designs in her line Okotokoto (okotokoto.com), named for her daughter, Koto. Organic cotton jumpsuits hand-dyed in avocado dye have an earthy texture and patina, while flowing dresses sport streaks of indigo and handkerchief hems. But it’s the multicolored kaftans in silk or linen, colorblocked in graphic shapes in shades of mustard, ochre and peach, that are the true standouts of the Okotokoto brand, and are worth the two- to threeweek wait time it takes for each garment to be made. Aoki embraced the idea of slow, sustainable fashion after 17 years of working in the fashion industry in New York and learning firsthand about its effects on the environment. She has kept the sleek silhouette of city designs but focuses now on quality over quantity. With her eyes set on her farm’s noni, kukui nut, koa and hibiscus, we can’t wait to see what the brand will do next.