When designing their twentieth anniversary Pump KICKS/HI turned on the Hawaiian summertime vibes and created a shoe that evokes the surf, sand and sunshine of their Pacific paradise. We caught up with Chris Kam from the store to learn more about how the Pump20 project came together. We also got the good oil on Hawaiian life and how KICKS/HI has grown from their tiny island home to become a global player in the sneaker stakes.
Welcome to Sneaker Freaker. I don’t think we’ve featured Kicks Hawaii before. Introduce yourself and tell our readers about the store...
KICKS/HI was established on September 12 in 2001 and what could have easily been a ‘Grand opening, grand closing!’ has flourished into two stores in Hawaii as well as a shop in Guam, which will be celebrating its first anniversary in December. KICKS/HI is rooted in island lifestyle and culture and we try to communicate that aesthetic in all of our projects – from high profile collaborations to our own brand of tees and Orange Label cut and sew. Our continual growth and success is due to our friendly, knowledgeable staff, well received product mix and the best customers worldwide. Personally I feel like I’ve been working at KICKS/HI before it was even a shop because I’ve been into all of the aspects that drive the shop – sneakers, gear, music, art and photography since I was a child. Needless to say, this goes beyond being a job for me as it is truly a lifestyle.
I’d associate Hawaii with flip flops, bikinis and Jack Lord, though not necessarily in that order. How do sneakers work in Hawaii?
Honolulu functions just as any major city with the definite distinction being that at any time in the day you can head to an amazing beach and jump into the ocean for a swim or surf world class waves. That juxtaposition of laid back beaches and city life is where KICKS/HI flourishes. We do embrace the flip flops and surf culture, but at the same time we live on an island, so we are able to take influences from all over the world. The ‘local steez’ is neither here nor there, but a little of everywhere.
Tell us about your Pump. Water as a theme is a fitting choice for a store based on an island with the best waves in the world. How literally did you decide to tell that story within the shoe?
Actually, all the elements of the design of the KICKS/HI Pump came together in a very natural progression. The height of the shoe, a true hi-top, just looks like a huge wave. The outsole is tan to represent the ocean sand bed. The midsole is the white caps of the waves breaking on the shore, with the blue splatter as sea spray. The upper consists of a deep sea blue to a free-dive blue to symbolize the depths of the ocean and the tongue acts as the wave’s crest. The Pump ball acts as the sun on a perfect day at the beach! On top of that, the deep sea blue mid upper is patent leather to convey the wet look of the water.
I love the saying ‘Mai Huli ‘Oe I Kokua O Ke Kai’ I know it translates as ‘never turn your back on the ocean’. Is that because you might get washed out to sea by a big wave or because it means you’d be looking at the car park if you were standing on the beach?
Once the visual story was completed, we felt the additional inspiration of the ocean’s power and resources was important to include. You should never literally turn your back on the ocean because its strong current can drag you out to sea. However the saying takes on another meaning in that the ocean is such an immense resource of life and health for the entire planet, we should never turn our backs and forget to care for it. Keep our beaches and water clean for the sake of generations to come.
Ok. I thought so! Now tell me. Can you rock the Pumps with shorts? They’d come up to your knees...
By all means! In every shoe we have been involved in the design process, we pride ourselves on creating a relevant story with the KICKS/HI aesthetic and beyond that, a shoe you can wear. If I couldn’t pick this shoe up from the shop on November 20 and rock it out the box with shorts, then I would consider it somewhat of a failure because story aside, the shoe must look good! The answer is yes. Very much so.
Alright. I’ll consider that next time I drop by to hang ten with you guys. Anything else you want to say?
The beauty of Hawaii is the ‘Aloha spirit’ where everyone is welcome and considered ‘ohana’ or family. I’m not going to get all Disney corny on you, but it’s really true that we here in the islands treat everyone like family. Our workers are fam. Our customers are fam. Followers on our Twitter page are fam. Everyone who checks for our newsletter or drops a wall post on our Facebook page is fam. I just think that we really do understand and appreciate the importance of all our customers and go out of our way to make sure their experience in the shop or via one of our media outlets is enjoyable and personal. It’s that connection between the shop, the products, the staff and the people that I feel makes for a strong bond which will ensure longevity. Humblest mahalos to everyone for all their support throughout the years and for the years to come!
Oh yeah, one last thing. What’s your personal favorite Pump of all time?
Personally, the Pump Court Victory because back in the day I was a huge Michael Chang fan. Those were THE shoes to have!
Make sure you check out our complete Pump20 coverage!