Hilo On My Chest
By Daniel Ikaika Ito

Releasing this Saturday, Sept. 10th (in-stores and online)

Hilo is on the rise, homey. Paie’a Projects and Fitted are teaming up, once again, with a basketball jersey and New Era fitted cap. This Hilo pack recognizes the modern and historical influences of the capital of Hawai‘i County.

It’s sons and daughters are doing it big in mainstream culture. The eastside of Moku o Keawe produces world-class fighters: Shout out to former UFC Champ and Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt BJ Penn! Hilo is not only a breeding ground for scrappers, the city is also a flower garden for femme fatales like Hawai‘i News Now’s Malika Dudley. The Hawai‘i Island town is also a hotbed for creativity these days. Hilo songbird Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole is evolving Hawaiian music, and his cousin Kuha‘o Zane is redefining Aloha wear at the same time.
“I think Hilo is known as a gathering place for talented locals, the type that go to Merrie Monarch, type that place music, the type that dance, and everybody comes to Hilo because it’s the second biggest city in Hawai‘i so naturally they’ll come to Hilo,” says Kuha‘o.
Kuha‘o’s designs in the family business, Sig Zane Designs, brought a young demographic to the brand and garnered KZ mainstream recognition. A feature story in Contrast Magazine’s The New Vintage issue, Interisland Terminal art exhibit, and Na Hoku Hanohano award has kept Kuha’o on the media’s radar for the last few years. Throughout all of this recognition KZ always reps his beloved hometown: Hilo.
“Getting together with Pai’ea Projects and Fitted, I was glad that they asked me to rep Hilo for this one and I was happy to be apart of it. I feel like Hilo has been sung before, but never in the modern way like with [this pack],” says Kuha‘o about the pack.
Like all Pai‘ea Projects designs, the basketball jersey and Fitted Kam, pays homage to Kamehameha the Great. The green in the hat and jersey represent the lushness of Hilo– as everybody knows that it’s a rainy old town. The black in the design celebrates the story about Kamehameha lifting the Naha stone. The great pōhaku weighs over 5,000 pounds and the #5 on the jersey gives props to Pai’ea’s achievement. The name “PAIEA” on the back refers to the nickname of Kamehameha, which means “hard-shelled crab.”
Today, the Naha stone lives in front of the Hilo Public Library, right where Kamehameha left it hundreds of years ago. Kuha’o and We Home Steady’s Malani, took Cuzzo, Skillet and Paul Kema to checkout the Naha stone. The two Keaukaha residents also took the O‘ahu boys around Hilo. Peep the video of their tour.
Hilo is known for many stunning natural scenery and spawning creative expression, like the Merrie Monarch Festival, Sig Zane Designs and Big Island Candies. There’s also a notorious side to the second largest city in the State.
“Drunk people?” laughs Kuha’o, when asked about what Hilo is known for. When it comes to the crip, Hilo is also home to many marijuana connoisseurs. Not surprising, Hilo is in a transitional period from rural to urban says Kuha’o.
“I would say [Hilo} is right in between right now. In 20 years it will be ‘city,’ but there’s still ‘country’ five minutes out [of Hilo town],” he explains.
Nobody can definitively predict the future of Hilo, but it’s sure to be on people’s radar. This Fitted x Paie’a Projects Hilo Pack helps put the city on the map, something that Kuha‘o will always be passionate about.
“I remember when I used to come Honolulu and tell people I was from Hilo and people would be like: ‘Wait, where is that?’ and totally tripping about it,” says KZ. “To bring the attention [with the Paie’a Projects x Fitted collaboration] to Hilo then that’s what’s worth it.”