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Back to Paradise

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”.

 

 

 

 

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Photo Shoot Fun

We just completed our annual photo shoot.  Shot on location in Tortola, it was hard work, but very rewarding.  It¹s a big production trying to capture all the new designs in our line, plus gather plenty of lifestyle shots.  Anyway, we pulled it off despite some inclement Summer weather, including a near full day of rain.  Honestly, it¹s not hard getting great photos on beautiful Caribbean islands like Tortola.  We made good use of our best beaches including Cane Garden Bay, along with local bars and restaurants, plus a stunning residence perched atop a mountain.  The final afternoon was set aboard a 38ft Buchannan designed sloop at anchor in Brewers Bay.  With a setting sun we squeezed of some of the best images of the shoot.  Now we are busy editing and assembling promo material and catalogs for our upcoming Summer shows in Miami & Las Vegas.
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What's in a name?

 HIHO is an acronym for Hook-In-Hold-On, which was the original name for the well-known windsurfingrace that took place in the Virgin Islands from 1979 to 1986.  When we took over the event the name was shortened to HIHO.  The clothing brand that was to later emerge was also dubbed HIHO.  Toiling under this storied past we favor naming our clothes after friends along with islands we know and places we surf & sail.  Our line is peppered with the Tobago surfshort, Barbara Beach coverup, CGB, Kate short, Cooten Bay Cardigan and the St Barth dress… Inspiration comes in many ways, shapes and reasons.  For us, getting a name right is as important as picking the right colors and finding the perfect material.  It’s easy naming a dress after St Barth or shorts after our friend Kate.  The mayreau scarf is named after the most delightful island in The Grenadines.  Fran, who has designed much of the line, has had a bag and a dress named after her. Next year’s favorite sweater- the Cooten Bay Cardigan- has been given the name of a North shore break that serves up a bombing left wave!

 


 


 
 

 

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What’s New

  In a way we can’t believe it took us so long to add sarongs to our line.  Everyday items in our Caribbean life that, for some reason, we overlooked until now.  We wear sarongs casually and often to the beach where, once we take them off, they are perfect as blankets on the sand.  Our new sarongs which are available in 100% cotton feature our bespoke prints in great Caribbean colors.  Sarongs are wonderful because you wear them as wraps, skirts, dresses and scarves, and use them as tablecloths or beach blankets.  Truth be told, we sold more sarongs at the Winter trade shows as big scarves than as wraps or skirts.

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Liming Around - Photo Request

 

Here at  HIHO we make casual and comfortable clothing for all the things we love about the Caribbean: hitting the beach,surfing,sailing and liming around. Liming means to hang out and relax. So  show us how you lime around in your HIHO clothing. Send your photos via email to limingaround@go-hiho.com .We will be posting a selection on our blog over the next  few months.

 

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Charting a Course

 

We did it quite by accident.  Long collectors of old maps & charts of the Caribbean we once had the idea to insert one inside a shirt as the main label.  It’s been a hallmark of the HIHO brand ever since.  We mostly collect used charts and frame them to hang on the walls of our stores.  The bulk of our collection is contemporary charts of the British Virgin Islands, St Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda and The Grenadines.  We also have older Admiralty editions, and French, Dutch & even a Russian chart.  We like them old and weathered, and we often frame them using driftwood we collect on the beach.  Oh yeah, we get asked almost every day of we will sell the framed charts hanging on the walls of our stores.

 

 

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Clean Sweet Wind

Taking a few days off and heading down to Antigua to race wooden boats is a treat, even by our standards.  Our annual pilgrimage to the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta sponsored by Panerai combines our passion for racing with a love of wooden boats.  The event, which is one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the World, blends competition with a wonderful celebration of traditional sailing.  

                   


The starts are jammed with drop dead gorgeous boats including elegant schooners, racing sloops and traditional wooden working boats.  We race aboard Zemi, a 40' sloop built on the beach in Carriacou in the Grenadines by the renowned shipwright Alwyn Enoe.  The Carriacou sloops form a virtual one-design class within the regatta.  The racing is tight, and the post-race camaraderie, fueled by Mount Gay and local Antiguan rum, is boisterous.  The boats are traditional in every way with just two winches, a long boomed mainsail and a genoa.  You sweat in the main sheet by hand and the spinnaker pole is a length of bamboo.  There are no instruments.  It's all about boat speed and tactics.  Local knowledge is king, and with a boatload of Antiguan's there is no shortage of tactical opinions, occasional disagreements and plenty of jokes.  Oh yeah, everyone is on the lookout for fish too.  (Antiguan's, the lot of them, all love to fish).  

Zemi was off the pace on day one of the regatta but we pulled it together and posted solid 2nd place finishes in the remaining three races, including an excruciating 5 second margin on corrected time in race #2.  We had all conditions from squally 30-knot squalls with 15-foot seas to gorgeous 15-knot trade winds under blue skies.  Rain or shine we were comfortable in our HIHO Suntek shirts!

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Viva Peru

Wake up early and spin down to STT to catch the 9:00amflight to Miami.  4hr layover in MIA and then depart for Peru.  Arrive in time for dinner at La Gloria , considered Lima’s best restaurant.  Peru is home to our knit suppliers and we visit often. 

We enjoy developing new styles, checking out samples, discovering fabric improvements and monitoring quality.  Best of all Peru offers exquisite cuisine and each meal is a culinary feast.  Lunch is usually ceviche, recognized as Peru’s best-known contribution to international cuisine.  Dinners, which in true Latin style, are started late, are at restaurants like the aforementioned La Gloria, or at Osaka, the cities best Japanese restaurant. 

Lima sprawls and a working day involves driving from factory to factory through the gritty working class Northern portion of the city in taxis.  Meeting our suppliers and seeing our product being made is important and, for us, gratifying.  Savoring Peru’s fantastic cuisine is a bonus!

 

 

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Inspiration

We draw immense inspiration from our life in the Caribbean.  We are surrounded by beauty.  Stunning islands, tropical scenery and simply the most beautiful water color in the World.  

 

A view from Tortola takes in nearby islands, the translucent Caribbean sea and lush mountains divided by plunging valleys.  Gardens overflow with tropical flowers and exotic palms.  Evenings are topped of with a sunset fit for a travel brochure.  

 

We find the sea perhaps the most compelling colored with almost every shade of blue available.  Shallower waters radiate turquoise and aquas while the deeper channels between the islands are darker blue.  It's no wonder that this is one of the favorite colors in our line!  

 

On smaller Caribbean islands the beach sand is clean and white.  The afternoon sun sparkles off the water, and the sky, particularly in the Winter months, is a radiating clear blue.  At night the stars wrinkle down on us.  

 

Our designers translate all this into prints and patterns, and we get noticed for our originality of style.

 

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Recommended Island Reading

 

Here are three books we love.  If you are lucky enough you can read them sitting on the beach with your toes in the sand, or reclining on your boat at anchor.

Although it's now 20-years old, "A Continent of Islands" is a great social, historical and political resource for the Caribbean.  Best-enjoyed if you are journeying through the islands, as in a yacht out of Antigua, or (gasp) aboard a cruise ship.  Our copy is dog eared and stained from traveling with us to Tobago and back.

Herman Wouk's "Don't Stop the Carnival" is charming, hilarious and rather to accurate.  Loosely based in the Virgin Islands it describes the trials & tribulations of buying a business and running it.  Anyone moving or considering a move to the Caribbean must read this!  

"The Islands and the Sea" aggregates a collection of writings about the Caribbean.  Conveying the beauty of the islands and the rich diversity of it's people, the collection of stories spans the history of the Caribbean from the first explorers to the living Trinidadian writer V.S. Naipal.

 

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Growing Nicely

 

Growth and expansion are the dream of any small company, and no more so than ours at HIHO.  While our genesis is in Tortola, we aspire to see our brand for sale in the Palm Beaches and the Hamptons, and in many places in between.  To that end we hit shows on a regular basis where, in the confines of a 10' x 10' booth space, we show off our clothes and spread Caribbean love.  Truth be told, we love selling and enjoy trade shows.  They are a lot of work, but very rewarding.  It's wonderful when owners or buyers fall in love with HIHO.  

You can learn a lot from the market and we always return to Tortola armed with more good ideas for our next line and motivated to work hard and design more.  It's the dead of Winter but we'll be at MODA in New York City starting February 24th for three days.  It's our second trip to New York in the last two months.  Trading our balmy Caribbean weather for the ice and bluster of the North East Winter, we proudly show our Summer line, and spread a little more Caribbean life and sparkle.

 

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What's in a name...

 

 

In the 1980’s the Johnnie Walker Hook-In-Hold-On event was windsurfing biggest & best-known event.  It was conceived in 1979 by local Virgin Island windsurfers and quickly grew into an intoxicating combination of great inter-island racing, fun parties and a yacht flotilla.  As local windsurfers we were thrilled every Summer when the event took place.  I mean it was like having the Super Bowl in town and we eagerly competed in as many editions as we could.

 

 

 

Johnnie Walker pulled the plug on their sponsorship after the 1986 event.  HIHO owner Andy Morrell nailed a 1st overall that year, collected a Pan Am plane ticket at the awards ceremony and flew back to Europe to finish university.  After that it was on to the pro windsurfing World Cup tour for a few years before knuckling down to get a job.  Thinking outside the box he bought the Hook-In-Hold-On name and re-started the race under the acronym HIHO in 1993.

 

 

 

Within a few years the event was sponsored by Bacardi Rum and Morrell was banging out the race T-shirts as fast as he could.  “We sold them in a basket in my mother’s store in town,” he explained.  “And then we decided to build a brand.”  

 

 

 

This year’s Highland Spring HIHO is the 20th edition of the “modern HIHO” event.  It’s been a roller coaster of a ride.  

 

 

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