The Story of Hilife : 10 Years Of Aloha
Happy New Year, everyone!….
Hope everyone had a BUTIFul holiday season! Now that the dust has settled we wanted start the new year with a very special announcement…. HiLife clothing turns 10 years old this year!
We can’t express how humbled and grateful we are to you for making this brand successful for all these years. It’s pretty amazing.
We wanted to honor these past ten years by taking you on a journey to the beginning—a walk down memory lane and show the evolution of the brand through our story, pictures, and videos. We realized that this day and age where information is always at your fingertips, the story of our brand isn’t. Plus, as the saying goes, in order to move forward, you have to know where you came from.
In 2006, Butigroove had a joint venture with Keoki Surfboards (my cousin’s company) and Fokai from Guam. We had a little store in Kapahulu in the old Turbo Surf store, where the Safeway is located now, called Mr. 3.
At that time, Heavywater magazine
a free magazine about surfing and ocean lifestyle, was everywhere. The owner and founder of HiLife Clothing, Kyle Shimabukuro threw a bunch of full page HiLife ads in this magazine as trade for some layout and graphic design work he was doing for the mag.
Kyle started working for Local Motion in 1990 as the art director and graphic designer for their Hawaiian Style brand, he left the company in 2001 and started his own freelance design business called “GrassShack Graphic” doing logos and t-shirt designs for various surf brands and local companies. In 2006, realizing a void in new locally made and designed Hawaii brands, Kyle concieved HiLife Clothing Co. and it’s trademarked “Island Tree” logo as his brand.
While many viewers saw this tree logo and the word “HiLife” in magazine ads, no one, not even us, really knew what it was all about. What Kyle didn’t realize was that by featuring the logo in the magazine he was exposing the brand to thousands of people that loved Hawaii and the ocean. Although the style of marketing wasn’t new, it was very effective. Thus began the story of HiLife Clothing.
Call it kizmit or just perfect timing because it just so happened that our lease for Mr. 3 was up around the time we learned that Kyle was the man who owned the HiLife logo. I found a new location for the store on the corner of Kona Street and Piikoi. The location had tremendous potential because it was located on one of the busiest intersections on the island of Oahu—parking wasn’t the greatest. We opened ButiGroove, while still carrying Keoki Surfboards and Fokai clothing. At the time Fokai was very popular, people like BJ Penn and Dana White were rocking it on tv, Keoki Surfboards was doing well, but the store could have used something fresh. Kyle and his logo was exactly what customers were looking for. Kyle told me he wanted to try and sell it in my shop and not in any other surf shops. He wanted to try a mom and pop angle, keep it small and local. I thought to myself, “In all my years printing t-shirts, I haven’t seen a logo quite like this.” So that’s how we became partners.
The very first tee Kyle brought was the tree logo printed on the front center chest, in discharge—a process which takes out the color of the shirt to reveal the previous color of the cotton, and the effect is a distressed, warm, earthy but retro feel. This simple graphic would set the tone for a journey I’d only dream of being a part of.