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Shannon Hiramoto - Machine Machine

For Shannon Hiramoto, it all started with a pair of shorts made out of a stash of vintage polyester fabric. Founder of, and maker at machinemachine, Shannon was taught to sew at age 14 by her grandmother. Those polyester shorts were only the beginning. Born and raised on the south side of Kauaʻi, Shannon earned fast, local prestige when she began machinemachine in 2007 with an early design of brightly-hued trucker hats assembled with vintage fabric pieces and vibrant contrast stitching. But like any inspired, original fashion item, her design was quickly mimicked. Shannon’s wares evolved as she remained a leader in the regenerative fashion industry.            

            In 2012, she opened a studio/storefront, “Workshop” in Old Hanapēpē Town, and relocated to Warehouse 3540 in Lāwaʻi in 2016. At this locale, she also welcomed her creative father, Charlie who built a printmaking studio inside the workshop, printing cards and tees with handset type and hand-carved blocks. During this time, Shannon developed intensive craft workshops under the name Small Craft Advisory. This learning initiative was dedicated to sharing the love of up-cycling fashion and making things by hand.

Like so many other small businesses, Shannon’s “Workshop” closed due to the global pandemic in March 2020. She has refocused this challenging time as an opportunity to prioritize art over production. Shannon does continue to sell her ethically-made, non-sweatshop, “no-new textile” garments on machinemachine’s online store.

            Beyond Shannon’s creative talents—which also include writing and illustrating her first children’s book about the fun and magic of thrift store shopping, hoping to pass on “the stoke of sustainable consumerism”—she also strives to hui, or unite, her local community. When asked what her hopes are for Kauaʻi’s future, Shannon explains that she imagines “purposeful engagement with each other, the arts, and the land,” and she personally strives to perpetuate that daily.

            By any metric, Shannon has been successful in uniting her local community. She singlehandedly set in motion “Muʻumuʻu Month” which is now officially recognized by the State of Hawaiʻi. Muʻumuʻu were introduced to Hawaiʻi in the 19th century and are based on the patterned dresses of Protestant missionaries of the 1820s.

            In 2015, Shannon was gifted a box of old muʻumuʻu from a friend’s mom. She originally intended to up-cycle the iconic dresses into other clothing or products but after turning a few into tote bags, she was left feeling as though she’d been taking history apart. She instead decided to wear the muʻumuʻu herself and kicked off a running commitment to wear one each day for the entire month of January. Widely recognized as a part of fashion history that originated in the Hawaiian islands, muʻumuʻu, and their legacy and tradition, deserve preservation and celebration. “Muʻumuʻu Month” began a movement across the Hawaiian islands and beyond and is only growing in popularity.

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