Kini’s Surreal Year

Kini Zamora came, in his own words, ‘from nothing.’ But after starring on Project Runway, he and his fashion lines are taking off, with customers from Honolulu to Dubai


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Dean “Dinko” Satta and Kini Zamora of KINIandDINKO | Photo courtesy Kini Zamora

Looking back at 2014, Project Runway star Kiniokahokuloa “Kini” Zamora sums up the year as “surreal, exciting and a dream come true.”

On his sixth try, the 31-year- old designer (his birthday was Dec. 29) finally made the cut, beating out thousands of appli- cants for a spot on the popular reality TV show. He spent six weeks of his summer in New York City, where the show is taped, and quickly became the favorite to win. But on the show’s finale, where the final four designers get to show their collections at the prestigious Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week plus take a trip to Rome, it’s finally revealed that Zamora finishes in a respectable third.

“The highlight was seeing my mom and dad at Fashion Week,” recalls Zamora. “It was their first time to New York, and second time ever leaving the island. The first time they went to Vegas with my aunt, so this was their first time traveling by themselves.

“Just seeing them in the stands made my heart feel so full. That was my win right there. It didn’t matter what the outcome was. When I saw that, it put my mind into this set where I made it already, I won.”

Since appearing on Project Runway, Zamora says his life has changed for the better. His business is booming, and he’s become an inspiration to many.

“I’m still trying to get used to the fame of it all,” he says. “You can’t read a book on how to be famous or how to take the popularity, you just have to take it as it comes, and I’m still trying to get used to it.

“I enjoy having fans come up to me and say how they watch the show and they loved my designs, and that I got to represent Hawaii the way that I did. Also, that I was a real local boy, from a low-income family, and look where I’m at now.”