A Fashion Legend Turns To Golf

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - August 12, 2009

If you were to pass Mr. Tomio Taki on the street, you may not take a second look. He is a serene, well-dressed and soft-spoken man who would most likely remind you of your favorite uncle.

But, as they say, looks can be deceiving.

Mr. Taki was born in Nagoya, Japan, one of four boys. The family business, established in 1750, dealt with the manufacturing and wholesale of Japanese-style clothing. He graduated from Keio University in Tokyo with a major in law and political science. However, the clothing and fashion business was his passion, and as company president at 26, Mr. Taki made a business decision that would change lives.

He firmly believed the future in fashion for him and his company would be found in the West. But, with an expertise in Japanese product design and manufacturing, he knew he needed a partner - in America.

It was 1963, in a bold move, Mr. Taki convinced an Ohio clothing executive to work with him in developing a new line of clothing. With access to his team of experts and support staff, Mr. Taki created two lines of clothing, Stacey Ames and Kelly Arden. The joint venture was a resounding success, and Mr. Taki went from concept to $300 million in sales in just three years.

Anne Klein is an icon in the world of fashion. Mr. Taki grew his stake in the Anne Klein Company from 50 percent to 100 percent by 1973. Unfortunately, Klein died of breast cancer in 1974, and Mr. Taki was tasked with finding a new designer. His precise criterion for the “right"designer was brilliant in its simplicity. There was one whom Mr. Taki believed would be best for his company. When he shared his decision, his associates cater-wauled that it would be the downfall of Anne Klein. Mr. Taki bought out those who were skittish and named his choice to lead his team.

Her name was Donna Karan.

To make a long, enjoyable story short, Mr. Taki is responsible for guiding Anne Klein and its secondary division, Anne Klein II, to enormous success. And when the time came for Donna Karan to strike out on her own, it was Mr. Taki who was there to launch what would become one of the most successful fashion franchises in the world, DKNY.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Mr. Tomio Taki, despite being an astute businessman with a worldwide reputation, calls Hawaii one of his cherished homes. His connection to the Islands dates back years and years when he was a frequent visitor. Today, his association is even stronger. He is the owner of the prestigious Honolulu Country Club, and his positive impact on our community was immediate.

Mr. Taki has elevated Honolulu Country Club to one of the finest private clubs in the state. The financial investment is obvious and substantial. But his presence at HCC is more profound. According to HCC VP and general manager Gary Brown, Mr. Taki is “Santa Claus, Donald Trump and Toshiro Mifune in one. Santa, because everybody loves him; Donald Trump because he is a supremely good businessman (with better hair), and Toshiro Mifune (legendary Japanese actor) because he has a bit of samurai in him, too.”

Mr. Taki’s passion for Hawaii is found in his concern for her people, especially families with children.

The creation of Honolulu Country Club Foundation is a testament to his generosity and caring. The primary fundraising event is the Honolulu Country Club Foundation Charity Golf Tournament. The fifth-annual event will be held Aug. 14 at HCC, and will donate more than $250,000 to local charities. The beneficiaries this year are the Lokahi Giving Project and Hawaii Foodbank. Each organization will share a $50,000 donation. If you would like to learn more, you can log on to http://www.honolulucountryclub.com.

Mr. Taki is adament in his belief that Hawaii is rife with opportunity. If we would only become more urgent and pro-active in addressing critical issues, we would all benefit so much more. His positive impact on our community in a relatively short amount of time clearly demonstrates he practices what he preaches.

What does the future hold for Mr. Taki?

“I want to create the best golf course and country club in Hawaii,” he says.

I have a feeling after living a life of creative vision, action and multiple successes, the future not only looks bright for Honolulu Country Club, but for our community, as well.

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