Saving The World One Tux At A Time

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - December 17, 2008
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Karen Mukai and Julie Lumives help customer Adrian Kamalii get fitted for the Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C.

Save the world, have a ball and rent a tuxedo. That’s the philosophy of Karen Mukai and her team at Tuxedos by Hale Niu at their new store on Waialae Avenue.

“We want this to be a lifestyle business,” explains Mukai. “We want people to see us as more than just once in a lifetime.”

The “save the world” part comes from Tuxedos by Hale Niu’s policy of making a donation to charity when customers rent their formal wear for that organization’s fundraising event. That policy stems from Mukai and partners John Henry Felix’s and Julie Lumives’belief in phil-anthropic giving.

“He’s giving back in style,” Mukai says of Felix.

And with the presidential inauguration of Honolulu native Barack Obama coming Jan. 20, Tuxedos by Hale Niu is offering a special to folks planning to dress to the nines for the historic occasion.

Also as part of its community relations, proceeds from the company’s second-hand prom dress sale go to Abilities Unlimited, which trains and finds employment for people with developmental disabilities.

In addition to owning this shop, Mukai also works for Abilities Unlimited, and she is the vice president of Best Bridal Hawaii, a wedding salon in Waikiki.

Mukai’s family legacy starts with her paternal uncle Ed Kato, who opened the shop on Kapahulu Avenue 50 years ago.

“We were the first tuxedo rental store in the islands,” explains Mukai.

Kato’s son, Bert, an attorney, managed the store.

“We have the inventory on the premises,” she notes. “So the tuxedo you try on is the one that gets altered to fit you.”

Mukai recently acquired inventory of Tuxedo Junction, which boasts some of the newer colors. Lumives, who worked with Tuxedo Junction for 27 years, is now general manager of Tuxedos by Hale Niu.

“As a University of Hawaii fashion major,” Lumives says, “I learned that the Kato family was the forerunner with Sato Clothier, a men’s clothing shop in downtown Honolulu, in getting Hawaii men to dress up.”

The Kapahulu shop closed in December 2007 and reopened in July on Waialae Avenue with more showroom space.

Mukai says getting the word out about its new location is one of the challenges of running a business.

“People are still trying to find us at our Kapahulu location,” says Mukai, a Hawaii Kai resident. “The kind people at our former location tell customers where our new location is.”

The team at the emporium expresses deep gratitude for the support of all its customers, workers, friends and family that helps make the future possible.

“We are working to expand to the West side in 2009, perhaps in the Aiea area,” Mukai reveals.

Tuxedos by Hale Niu is located at 4210 Waialae Ave. For more information, call 734-2125. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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