Maui Business News - "The Maui Website for Business"
July 29, 2014 Wailuku—The potential growth of Made in Maui products just got bigger. L.A. fashion designer and contractor Luis Diaz had opened L. D. Made in Maui contract clothing design and manufacturing company at 1062 Lower Main Street in Wailuku. Maui’s first full-service fashion design and sewing factory can produce small and large clothing lots from any fashion fabric, jeans to leather handbags, lingerie to wedding gowns. Local businesses, individuals and fashion designers are already contracting L. D. Maui to design and/or construct bathing suits, dresses, uniforms and tote bags.
Owner Luis Diaz currently has five employees, but equipment capacity for 25. “The word is out and we are getting new clients in Hawaii, so I need more Maui sewers right now, says Diaz, who trains home sewers to work on his industrial machines, and gives them opportunity to learn pattern design and the contracting business into the bargain. “I moved my business from the Los Angeles fashion district, where I also ran a fashion design school.’ Diaz said. “I train sewers to put out excellent products on my industrial machines, and pay a good wage, because I want a steady, happy crew--people who will take pride in the beautiful fashions they are making. Some of our work is hourly—but most are flexible time with a kind of “profit-sharing,” where sewers receive a percentage of what I make on each piece produced. If people want to work, have them call me. I have jobs.”
Besides employee training, Diaz runs two-hour Fashion Design Classes twice a week at the factory for people who want to sew their own personal couture or create their own clothing line. Fashion design students focus on pattern design, including drafting and computerized plotting, staging, fabric selection, sample production, and the fashion business cycle. These classes are open to the public and each session costs $20. This summer, Kihei Charter School teen Hiʻilani Sakugawa learned how to design and sew her own high quality bathing suits, pants and tops that are one-of-a-kind. Local entrepreneur Diane Valoroso, Production Manager at L. D. Made in Maui, sees the operation as a great opportunity for women, who buy two-thirds of all the clothing sold in the U.S. “Who hasn’t wished they had their own clothing line – or could design the clothes they spend their hard earned money on? I designed and made the dress I am wearing; with what I learned here, I can design another one tonight!”
In its July issue, Hawaii Business Magazine featured L. D. Made in Maui because of its potential to create jobs and revenue in Hawai’i. Mayor Arakawa’s 2012 Maui Data Book puts annual retail clothing sales on Maui at $9 Million, and CLRsearch.com reports $1.5 Billion clothing and accessories retail sales in all Hawaiʻi each year. Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) retail sales figures don’t break out this industry, but aside from “aloha wear,” which has lost popularity in recent years, very few clothing goods sold in Hawaiʻi are produced here. Contract sewing houses in Honolulu are equipped to sew mid-weight cotton fabrics, so that clothing made from charmeuse, dupione silk, denim or spandex has to be contacted abroad. Small shops like Na Wahine on Market Street can sew their garments in-house, but bigger designers at Kahului, Kā’anapali and Wailea boutiques produce their lines in South America and Asia. Some Maui boutiques purchase ready-made items on the mainland or overseas and detail them with their own logos for resale.
Despite this import business model, tourist demand for products and clothing made here on Maui is very strong, and growing. In addition, local tastes in color, patterns, durability and comfort create a special “Maui Style” that can best be interpreted by local designers.
L. D. Maui offers Hawaii fashion designers the option to produce goods here on Maui, where itʻs easy to check out samples and communicate changes. Diaz says he can compete favorable by reducing communication errors, assuring good fit, and eliminating the frustrating delays and expense of shipping and expediting through customs.
Diaz plans to participate in November’s 2014 Made in Maui County Festival, at the MACC and is currently working with Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) faculty to coordinate a job-training program at his factory. Owner Luis Diaz fell in love with Maui and decided to move his business from Los Angeles’ fashion district to Wailuku. He was born in the Dominican Republic, and studied couture in Germany, where he learned to work in leather. In L.A. Diaz operated his own manufacturing facility, designed his own clothing lines and became a consultant to The Evans Group when they created their L.A. fashion design school, “With so many home sewers on Maui, I saw the potential to share my knowledge here, create a design and production factory, and teach people so they can make a living in the fashion business, as I have.”
For further information on L. D. Made in Maui production services and design classes, call Luis Diaz at 808-242-1451 or visit www.luisdesigns.com
Photo credits: Kamaʻemaʻe Smith
Photo 1 Caption: L. D. Made in Maui sewing contractor and fashion designer Luis Diaz instructs students to use industrial sewing machines.
Photo 2 Caption: Kihei Charter School Sixth Grader Hiʻilani Sakugawa and her grandmother, Lori Sakugawa, review the “needle” (stitching and construction quality) of the bathing suit she designed and sewed this summer.
Photo 3 Caption: L. D. Made in Maui Production Supervisor Diane Valoroso designs her own clothes and has found a new career in contract sewing.
Photo 4 Caption: Luis Diaz, sewing contractor, and fashion design consultant, shows one of his leather