Ala Moana Shopping Centre

If shopping is low on your list of priorities but you still want to venture out then Ala Moana is the one stop you should make, if you’re a shopaholic then it’s a good first stop to gauge prices and what’s available. Even better, it opens early and closes late.

The short of it, the place is huge. A mostly open aired multi-storey arrangement is home to nearly 300 stores so you’ll need a good couple hours even if you are moving at a moderate pace. In list form our picks of the bunch would be:

Animation Addict
– A good place to start if you’re after Hello Kitty, Tokidoki or Angry Birds. They also have a good selection of Domo and the more popular items like Pop! Vinyl collectibles and Marvel merch. While most items are readily available just about everywhere, there were a few gems like a limited edtion Hello Kitty x Wish Come True collab bag. You know its scarce when even the staff at the Sanrio store have never seen one before!

Animation Addict

Animation Addict

Animation Addict

Animation Addict

Animation Magic – An alterntive to Animation Addict quite possibly own by the same mob as the stock was very similar

Pac Sun – Local surf and skate store. Generous mix of designer and run of the mill wear with a few things on sale.

Crazy shirts
– A Hawaii staple for tees. Its where you go if you want a souvenir shirt that isn’t from an ABC store. Shirts are good quality with a variety of themes, mostly surf/native based however the bump in price ($15-40) may have you heading back to the markets for a 5 for $20 deal.

Lego store – Doesn’t matter where we are in the world, if there’s a Lego store close by, we’re stopping in! This one had a nice bunch of dioramas built around different themes, the half size R2D2 and very large Star Wars star destroyer in the window were quite impressive. An instant souvenir was the minifig’ and Lego tag “I <3 Hawaii" keyring, shame these weren't available in other cities we've been to. [caption id="attachment_2882" align="alignnone" width="550"]Lego Store Lego Store[/caption]


IMAG0191-20 IMAG0195-23 IMAG0196-24 IMAG0200-28

IMAG0215-41 IMAG0203-31

And of course you cant go past the American shopping mall staples – Champs, Footlocker, Hot Topic, Lids, Vans, Journeys, local surf/ski store Local Motion and cutesy overload is never too far away with Sanrio which seems to have signed a deal with the whole state as it and its associated local related merchandise is everywhere, they’re even in ABC stores! Just try to hold back a “nawwww” when you see a brown Hello Kitty in a grass skirt, its impossible! @~@

Pit stop time, roll out the pretzels! Unfortunately without a Wetzel‘s in sight we had to settle for Pretzelmaker. Not quite the same but tasty nonetheless (and still a damn sight better than anything on the streets of NYC! Yes, I realise using anything “from the streets of NYC” as a benchmark is a lazy and bias comparison :p)

One of the best things about Ala Moana is, it is central to a lot of other shops and eating spots, even better if you’re on foot, they’re all near each other and all buses lead to “Rome”.

Head out towards Nordstrom and you’ll come across three of Hawaii’s premium streetwear and sneaker boutique stores Kicks Hawaii, Noteworthy and Fitted all within a short distance of each other.

Kicks Hawaii (or KICKS HI – I know, sounds like a chorus line in Can can mode) – Is your one stop shop for sneakers and streetwear, very much in the vein of Kicks Tokyo, Undefeated and Dave’s Quality Meats. Prices are what you’d expect from such places but with limited edition prints and stock that wasn’t available on the website its a worthy tax for the “souvenir for someone who hates souvenirs”. I even spotted an unreleased ACG sneaker behind the counter which looked like a Terra Humara with “Powerlines”. Speaking to the owner it turns out we were both fans of rugged ACG’s but being a sample he quickly rejected my request to buy it :p Not being released for at least another six months didn’t help my case either!

They also regularly come by plenty of Quickstrikes so if you’re in the area for more than a week, it might be worth a return visit. You can keep up to date with their blog here.

Noteworthy – Is quite the illusive store if you’re on the same block as the store. It’s actually on the second level with access up an old flight of stairs behind the shop fronts, which you can only really see if you’re on the other side of the road. These guys are more along the lines of higher end street fashion. If you’ve ever had a penchant for $100 flannies, pants with the bottoms rolled past your ankles or have ever been referred to as a hipster then this is the place for you. Prices were well in the “you’re kiddin’ right?” range but they did have plenty of items heavily reduced on sale to help minimise that instant buyers’ remorse feeling.



– Very much like Lids but swap the run of the mill colours and teams for limited edition colours and exclusive branded designs along with their in house branding. Staff were very friendly and helpful, they even went to the extent of cracking open new, yet to be released stock a couple months early for me. Easy decision then 😉


Crooks and Castles is also in the area, a couple doors down from Noteworthy in all of its clinic white glory but very same-same stock. We recommend sticking to online dealers like Karmaloop where this brand is always on sale.

A couple other mentions in the area are Walmart – come on, you’re in the ‘States, its pretty much a tourist attraction even if its just for “The people of Walmart“. It’s also a good stop if you’re after some cheap clothing/beach wear basics.

Morning glory
is just across the road, yep, the one and the same that used to be in almost every shopping centre around Brisbane and the original cutesy Asian toy and knick knack chain. If you’re after plushes or stationary along these lines then it doesn’t disappoint – a huge range of items from little phone trinkets right up to bean bag sized Totoros.

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

..And with that, we’ll hit the pause button on this epic day of deep tissue retail therapy and insert a day volcano hunting at the biggest island in Hawaii’s chain of island, aptly called… The Big Island.

Hawaii 2012 part #1 – Arrival
Hawaii 2012 part #2 – Waikiki
Hawaii 2012 part #3 – Honolulu shopping – Part A
Hawaii 2012 part #4 – The Big Island – Volcano tour
Hawaii 2012 part #5 – Shopping Honolulu – part B
Hawaii 2012 part #6 – Tattoo Honolulu / Boardshorts: A Perfect Fit art exhibits
Hawaii 2012 part #7 – Pearl City area
Hawaii 2012 part #8 – Swap meets and Made in Hawaii festival
Hawaii 2012 part #9 – Cook offs and Car shows
Hawaii 2012 part #10 – North shore
Hawaii 2012 part #11 – Windward shore and Sealife Park
Hawaii 2012 part #12 – Chief’s Luau at Sealife Park
Hawaii 2012 part #13 – South shore – Diamondhead crater, Hanauma bay


Soho part #2

On the way to Covent Garden we decided to make a quick stop back at Carnaby, this time when the shops were actually open! Little did we know, it was the day of a monthly moped/scooter meet up, right in the middle of it. There was literally over a 100 “bikers” all revving their engines filling the small alleyways with leaded fumes and the sound of a bunch of angry mosquitoes, quite the spectacle for all the senses. We took refuge in Size? but the damage was already done, this and several other store along the way were already full of exhaust fumes, yummy. Size? did have a good selection of sneakers, some I didn’t see making the rounds online till a month or 2 later. They also had a few items on sale, always a good sign. Some clothing downstairs, most unworthy of the exuberant price tags but again there was a welcomed clearance rack of hoodies and tees.

Down to the southern bordering lane of Carnaby, Brewer st., resides the New Era flagship store which surprisingly stocked a wide range of Yankees caps in just about every colour possible but disappointingly few other teams or colours over their two levels. Couple doors down is easily one of my favourite toy stores in London, Playlounge. These guys have been going at it for years and their wide selection shows this. Like my other fave stores, they don’t just stock only the obvious stuff like Kidrobot, there’s plenty of obscure stuff and local pieces like The Bubblegum Adventures of Periwinkle series. However, saddened once again with not being able to make the big (in size) purchases I dragged my feet out to Covent Garden, stopping at Sports Direct along the way. Oh, there’s also the Vintage Magazine store, which wouldn’t be out of place in West Hollywood with a lot of movie and TV memorabilia, celebrity related stuff, cool vintage posters and of course magazines.

New Era


Vintage Magazines

Covent Garden

We stopped in at Foot Patrol, kind of London’s answer to Undftd. The name gets around thanks to some of their collabo’s but in general their range of sneakers and clothing is pretty small with a strong leaning towards “dressier” styles and higher end items. It would of course be the place to be if there was a quickstrike drop or a new limited release.

Foot Patrol

Foot Patrol

Forbidden Planet

Forbidden Planet megastore popped up a few blocks later and a megastore it was. Very much like Melbourne’s Minotaur, it’s a geek haven for all things comics, anime, collectibles, pop culture, cult tv and associated merch. What it lacks in quirkiness and uniqueness against Playlounge it makes up for in sheer bulk. Prices were average RRP, some a little higher compared to the States not at all helped by the exchange rate but there was a good selection of sale items.

In the same area you have the London Kidrobot store one or two London exclusives, namely the printed tees. Couple doors down is Adidas Originals and Volcom, there’s also the “West” G Shock store, nothing you cant get online (and for cheaper) but it was cool to see rows of the watches all lined up.

Neal Street is the main drag of Covent Garden and is home to a string of shoe and clothing stores. Sole, Offspring, Size? and Focus are just some of them, all have varying degrees of stock, pricing and variety. All are small to average sized stores so it wont take long to pop your head in to all of them. Round the corner in Neal’s Yard is Slam City Skates, one of London’s oldest and most prolific skate stores. They have a good selection of skate related products at regular prices, just don’t tell the kids off for loitering round the entrance, more than likely they work there 😉

G-Shock West

G-Shock West

Next, we go market crazy at Camden and Shoreditch.

London 2011 part #1 – Arrival, Soho Shopping
London 2011 part #2 – Central London sight seeing
London 2011 part #3 – Chelsea Flower show
London 2011 part #4 – Shopping – Hammersmith
London 2011 part #6 – Shopping – Camden
London 2011 part #7 – Shopping – Shoreditch
London 2011 part #8 – Hyde park, Piccadilly Circus

London photo gallery here
Chelsea flower show photo gallery here

left - FAKE right - GENUINE

left - FAKE right - GENUINE

Well as they say, on a long enough time line, anything is possible. In this case, when more than 90% of your shopping is done online, you’re bound to come across dodgy products and even dodgier sellers. Case in point, Ebay. Ok, ok, I hear the collective groan and “well there’s ya problem!” but over the years and the number of items that I and my friends have bought, I’m very much surprised I haven’t been stung more. Though, like any purchase if you do your research before hand on the seller and the product, you’ll be in the clear… most of the time.

When it comes to anything that has the potential to be counterfeit I’m rather fastidious and will sooner miss out on a “bargain” than risk getting burnt. But what happens when you confirm a sellers authenticity but then get stung on the second round? We’ll you’re screwed, that’s what.

Our case study involves one particular seller who also has an online store, they sell New Era caps and some clothing and accessories. Yes, that’s right, we’re happy to name and shame. Being a little uncertain of how legit they were I thought I’d test the waters with a “cant go too wrong” purchase of a MLB LA dodgers New Era cap. Within a week the cap arrived and after going over it comparing it to several of my other genuine articles I was happy to conclude it was the real deal and left me with enough confidence to buy a couple more. This time I went for an Undefeated (UNDFTD) and a camo MLB, with the previous purchase under my belt I felt safe and didn’t check on these items other than the photos in the listing, big mistake.

Taking them out of the box, it was instantly noticeable that they weren’t of the same quality in material and construction (I know some of the purists will scoff at New Eras own inconsistencies but in general they’re a good cut above the flea market garb). After a quick search online to find tell tale signs for fake New Era caps, I found they were all consistent with what I had received.

left - FAKE right - GENUINE

Some of those signs include:

– Shape – this is the most obvious visual sign. Look at the cap from front on, its flatter and squarer than a normal New Era, similar cut to a cheap military cap.

– Bill/visor – I don’t know about other fakes but both of these ones felt like they were made from a manila folder. Holding it by the corner of the visor was enough to make it start to bend from the weight of the hat alone. It was like it was melting!

– Labelling – apparently previously it was easier to spot thanks to the poor quality and the placement of the New Era stickers but now they have exact replicas or are even using the real deal, however, they fail elsewhere. The obvious is the print along the inner 6 point seam, on the Undefeated cap it looked like it was drawn own with Liquid paper, almost completely illegible. The not so obvious is the colour and size of the MLB brand label inside the cap. On the fakes the colouring is dull rather than a bold colour, the sizing is off as well, some are smaller, some are way bigger. The MLB branding on the back of the cap can sometimes be a sign but the information I have found on this is rather inconsistent re: the size of the ball in the logo. Though, if you look closely on fakes the edging of the logo in fine detail areas like the point of the guys cap isn’t as sharp.

– Construction – look closely at the stitching and placement of seams and labels. Look for dropped/bunched/loose stitches and crooked labels, these were obvious on both caps.

– Materials – this is a little harder to determine, it seems like all New Eras should be either 100% wool or a wool blend but I have not found any confirmation for this. Though this can still help with identifying fakes. Both the caps I had were labelled as 100% polyester but online were listed as 100% wool. After questioning the seller about this he claimed that darker colours were always made from cotton! Completely contradicting both labelling and what was listed for the item. Strangely enough, the MLB did feel like it was cotton, so its more than likely he let slip the real material they’re made from. Makes sense since cotton is cheaper than wool.

– More Info – a quick Google search will find you plenty of other things to check for including the button on top of the hat not lining up with the panels and inner seams, the number of rows of stitches in the visor etc.

Genuine - note bold colour label, sharp lines on text and image, straight positioning

FAKE - note: dull colour MLB label, fuzzy lines on text and image, crocked positioning

FAKE - illegible print

So how do you stop yourself falling into the same traps?

– its been said so many times before but still no truer words have been spoken… if its too good to be true, then it usually is. Case in point, the Undefeated cap was released in 2008, yet here’s a place with seemingly unlimited stock in every size while no other (reputable) store in the world has them. This statement also refers to pricing, if they’re way cheaper than everywhere else or have crazy specials where they’re giving away free hats if you buy 2 or more then this should be taken as a big warning sign.

– On ebay, ALWAYS check the feedback, it may not be 100% accurate for the positive fb, since they can easily get their friends/alias accounts to “buy” stuff from them but the negative and neutral fb is what you need to look for. Even if there’s only one that is enough to look in further at what you’re actually buying.

– Take note of the photos of the items. If they’re game enough to take photos of the actual items, you’ll see they usually shoot from an angle from above. This hides the fakes lack of “doming”. You wont see front on shots with the visor at eye level. Also look out for stolen stock shots from other websites. If fake Air Jordan websites can steal Flight Club stock shots and remove their big watermark then it would be no problem for them to do the same for caps.

– Feedback/disputes – always lodge a dispute as soon as possible. Dodgy sellers are masters at beating round the bush and dragging things out longer then they have to. If you aren’t getting quick responses or it seems they’re trying to worm their way out of it then log a dispute and let ebay sort them out. If you’re planning on leaving negative fb then make sure you’ve exhausted all of your options. Consider it as your final ace up your sleeve because once its dealt then the seller has nothing to lose and can just not refund your money. Also remember there is a limited time to lodge disputes and leave feedback. I believe its around 45 days for both but can’t find confirmation. This used to be way longer but ebay cut it back because they said only a small percentage of people do anything after 30 days. Too bad when it takes over 2 weeks to receive your item and just as long for them to receive it back if you want a refund!

– Usually genuine businesses are a bit more attentive and will try and resolve any issues quickly not take your money and run.

– Finally do not buy from or their online store, they’re faker than a hooker’s smile. Even with the chance of getting a genuine article the risk is still high and the service still very poor. Simply not worth the headache. Stick to known authorised resellers and don’t give these leeches the satisfaction.

Now, while I did get a refund on one of the caps, they have stopped replying to my emails for the other, hence this blog/warning/personal reminder.

Update: it seems I haven’t been the only one scolding them with accusations as they have now changed all their listings from “New Era Cap” to “New Cap”. Small silver lining on that cloud but for those uninitiated I hope this message has helped a bit.