For most of their adult lives, friends Jay Otaguro, Eric Takemoto and Jason Kawakami have noticed a void in clothing options for men in Hawaii. Their only recourse, Otaguro said, was to shop online or during trips to California.
Two years ago they decided to take matters into their own hands, with the idea of opening a boutique geared toward men who aren’t 20 anymore but still want to look street-modern.
"We just wanted to create a store and fill it with stuff we would wear," said Otaguro, who was working for Abercrombie & Fitch at the time. Takemoto is still a high school counselor, and Kawakami is chief executive officer of Tantriq Entertainment.
Inspired by high-end clothing boutiques that are the norm in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo, the friends opened Noteworthy three months ago at Keeaumoku and Makaloa streets, which they see as a burgeoning men’s fashion district. The second-story store is within walking distance of Kicks/HI and Leilow on Makaloa, and Crooks & Castles, near Panda restaurant on Keeaumoku.
While the other stores and places like In4mation are big on graphic apparel and footwear, Otaguro said their aim was to offer complementary styles in denim and outerwear, so as not to compete with their neighbors.
"We want to offer a complete look. Our demographic is a little bit older than the street crowd," Otaguro said, although anyone from 18 to 45 or so, with a discerning eye, could carry off the looks presented.
Coming from Abercrombie & Fitch, Otaguro said, "I learned the difference between corporate culture and running a very small business. With a small business I have more creative control."
That means selecting a roster of carefully curated brands that include ALife, Black Apple, Comune, Herschel Supply Co., Public School and Naked and Famous Denim, a majority exclusive to the store. Prices are as varied as the merchandise, covering a vast range to suit anyone from beginner to clothes connoisseur.
"We’ve been getting a little of both. Some will come here for specific brands. Some just want to see what we have and are cautious, but I enjoy helping them," Otaguro said. "I like being able to talk about the products and the quality of the products.
"We want to continue to grow and build up our own Noteworthy brand."
Noteworthy is at 631-A–Keeaumoku St. at Makaloa Street, above Green Papaya restaurant. Visit www.noteworthysociety.com or call 499-7248.