HIHO, the brand of pure Caribbean clothing, is an acronym for hook-in-hold-on. Windsurfers “hook in and hold on” to their boom, and this was the name of the 1980’s version of today’s popular Highland Spring HIHO event. Today’s brand is a spin-off of the event and while the race continues to be held each Summer in the BVI’s you can buy HIHO clothing up and down the Caribbean.
The HIHO designers have always been creative with what they name the designs in their collection. Fran Samuels, who along with her husband Andy Morrell, was instrumental in much of the early design of the brand explains: “We started out naming many of our clothes after our friends- maybe through inspiration, or because they liked that particular item.”
You’ll still find some items named after people, for example our men’s shirts (named after their friends Tim & Simon) but the current trend at HIHO is to pick places and island names. One season, we named surf shorts were after the BVI’s best surf breaks and another year we simply named surf shorts Anegada, Anguilla and Saba. Other island names like Necker, Ginger Island and Cruz Bay pop up on pants, shorts & shirts.
Our original Suntek Shirts feature the “Hook in and Hold on” phrasing which pays homage to our brand heritage. Visit our website here to purchase.
Our islands were all but destroyed by hurricane Irma and further damaged by Maria. It is destruction beyond description and very sad. It will take years for the Virgin Islands to recover. We are doing everything in our power to help.
We count the Bitter End as a great partner and immediately joined in their fundraising efforts which have raised over $400,000. The resort fundraising effort is to assist their staff and employees who lost their homes in the storm. We will continue to assist the resort as much as possible and look forward to their re-building and re-opening. Donations for Virgin Gorda & the Bitter End Yacht Club Staff Fundraiser can be found here.
We have been very successful with our Irma Blew T-shirt. We're in a second printing now, and have also created a BVI Strong and a St. John Strong shirt too. The HIHO team plans to raise at least $10,000 via these shirt sales. You can purchase these shirts on our website here.
We really appreciate all of the outreach about HIHO and our team.
Our interest in collecting charts & maps must have started when we were young and sailing boats up and down the Caribbean. Pouring over the chart we were using as we made our to or from Antigua or down to Puerto Rico we always fascinated over the islands we were passing. Even though we were sailing in our backyard it was always interesting to see exactly where were or learn the name of the point, rock or islet we were passing. (Confession- we still pour over charts, though they are now digital and you can zoom in and out electronically…) Now we collect all the charts we can get our hands on. Of course we favor ones from the Caribbean and we have a cool collection of UK, US and French charts with some dating back to the 1960’s. We started framing them and hanging them in our stores. We take sections of torn charts and frame them too. The attached photo shows one wall in our store.
On Sunday we clambered about an IC-24 for the inaugural ABI Regatta in St Thomas. It was a fun race featuring a run down the South side of St Thomas followed by a couple windward-leeward courses off the beach at Frenchman’s Bay. We were the envy of the fleet in our matching HIHO suntek jerseys. Our winning speed also turned heads! The fleet comprised 10 identical IC-24 sailboats manned by teams of friends and families. We were sailing with friends against our friends- what could be better. A group of kids from the clubs junior sailing program beat us to the first mark but we sailed a great downwind run to lead at the buoy off Green Cay. We succumbed to course misinterpretation on the dogleg reach to the next buoy of the beach and slipped to 4th but managed to get back to 3rd by the downwind finish. We aced the first windward-leeward course and settled for a 4th in the next which put us in end overall. By Noon we were anchoring off the beach and swimming ashore to ABI beach bar for drinks, lunch and a casual awards ceremony.
The Caribbean's coolest SUP race took place on Saturday, January 17th. The Painkiller Cup is a 14-mile downwind race from Trellis Bay on Tortola to the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke. The events unique format sees 3-person stand-up paddle (or SUP) teams alternate as they paddle the downwind course. Changeovers are scheduled every 25-mins and, uniquely, each team must include at least one female paddler.
The winning team in 2hrs 48mins and 30secs was Team Stand Up Mexico featuring Shelby Taylor, Ryan Helm and Bicho. "These guys ran away with the event," reported organizer Andy Morrell. "They led from the start and never looked back."
Second place was won (again) by the St Croix Limon team headed by Boga rider Bill Kraft.
Stealing 3rd place at the finish was Team Caribbean paddler featuring Romu Mamamlou and Ffils Franck from Guadeloupe and Kirstin Thomas from Laguna Beach, CA.
Here is the event video to whet your appetite for the 2016 edition which will be sometime around Jan 16th:
Deliciously refreshing and nearly ubiquitous in the Caribbean islands (the English speaking ones, that is), Ting is, well, about as Caribbean a product as you can find.
Ting is a soda made from grapefruit. It’s sweetened with cane sugar, not corn sweeteners. Kids love it, and so do adults! Ting cools you off on a hot day and it mixes well with spirits.
Rum and Ting and vodka and Ting are equally refreshing!
Ting was “invented” in Jamaica but it’s bottled under license. We like Ting bottles best. Specifically, the 8oz greenies that are bottled in St Kitts. You stumble upon larger 12oz bottled which are shipped down from Canada. Ting in cans comes from the UK and it has a discernibly different, but still delicious, taste.
There is also Pink Ting. It's sexy, but distracting. Go for the greenies.
Growing up in the islands, the fresh local produce has got us pretty attuned to fruit seasons. Mango season is early and mid-Summer while ginep season is late Summer and into October (coming soon to the HIHO blog: weird Caribbean fruit. We'll go further into gineps then). Locals get obsessed in September, the height of sea grape season. The stout, mostly low-growing sea grape trees (Coccoloba uvifera), which mainly grow on beaches, produce round purple berries that grow in grape-like bunches. The berries are sweet with a bitter skin and fleshy inside that surrounds a small seed. During sea gape season, we flock around the sea grape trees to gather as many grapes as possible.
Stitching patches on T-shirts didn’t come to us as a revelation. It was more of an evolution. We took a graphic we liked, printed it on self-material and then stitched it to a shirt with a bold zig-zag. We liked that this was different from what we've done before, and decided to include a big nautical stitch.
Our first series of patch graphics were islands with the corresponding GPS coordinates: Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Block Island, Tortola, Antigua, and more…something for island lovers in every hemisphere.
Growing up in the Caribbean, you learn to talk like your fellow islanders. There’s no West Indian “language” per se, but instead a unique group of patois that, depending on the island you come from, dictates one’s manner of speaking. In our islands—the British Virgin Islands—there are definitive accents and a whole slew of words and phrases that a non-Caribbean would find foreign. Accents and phraseology vary up and down the island chain. As natives, our ears are trained to differentiate between dialects: we can tell a Jamaican from a Virgin Islander from a Dominican, and so forth depending on how that person speaks. Conversations down here are peppered with delightful Caribbean phrases like “easy mon”, “jeez um bread”, or “limin”, and we always say "good morning" or "good afternoon". (Salutations are a big deal in the Caribbean). Here are eight words we use daily when having a lime around Tortola:
Liming \ˈlīm-in’\ verb. –To relax and hang out. "Le we tek a lime at de beach" or, "I limin’ da girl".
One time \ˈwən-ˈtīm\ adjective. – Now, or together. "I could pass by you and collect the book one time".
Respect \ri-ˈspekt\ noun. – A solution meaning, well, respect. Friends greet each other and part with "respect". Almost always accompanies with a your right fist tapping your left chest.
Good-good \ˈgu̇d -ˈgu̇d\ adjective. – A characteristically Virgin Island phrase that means good, twice. You can also say "Mornin', morning'", etc.
Bo Hog \bo -ˈhȯg, ˈhäg\ – another Virgin Island phrase, and kind of prosaic. Means a bull shitter. “Don’ listen to dat mon, he a bo hog”.
Raven \ˈrā-vən\ adjective. – hungry. "Misson, I raven" means "Man, am I hungry".
Jeez um bread [Cheese and bread] \ˈjēz-əm-bred\ –an exclamation similar to “holy cow". Car dealer: "Dos new tires dem cost $200 each". Customer: "Jeez um bread".
Pie ass \ˈpī-ˈas\ – noun. Someone who acts foolish. Can also be used as a verb: "Dat boy always pie assin' around".
At HIHO, we've had an enduring love affair with bags. One of our first products was a denier nylon beach bag made for us by an early supplier in Hong Kong. In our early days we made a full line of bags, even luggage. Portending the now nearly ubiquitous use of recycled sails, our best collection of bags featured cotton canvas blended with sailcloth. This collection was an immediate sellout. After a few years’ hiatus, we're happy to announce the return of bags to our line. We'll soon be featuring a line of cotton canvas beach bags with chunky rope handles. The bags will feature our signature prints and colors to match our popular beach coverups and pillows. We’re happy to report that early indications suggest we’ll again have a sellout on our hands!
One of the simple rules we live by down here in the islands is to give ourselves a good break each Summer. August and September are great times to travel because business is slow and it’s terribly hot in the Caribbean. We’ve just returned from a month in New England. It wasn’t all fun & games—we actually worked quite a bit visiting the many stores that carry our brand. But, returning home is always great: the pace, which is almost languid in the late summer, is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the northeast.
Stepping out of the plane onto the STT tarmac and inhaling is a wonderful reminder of our ideal weather and nearly perfect air. On the boat ride up to Tortola the sea breeze and salt spray only add to the “welcome home”.