Most party people know Chris Kam as DJ Delve, music maestro of Manifest’s weekly Thursday night party, The Get Right. Or, they may have seen the 36-year-old at his three-fold day job as the art director/general manager/buyer for street wear boutique, Kicks Hawai’i. What many don’t know is that Chris worked in the surf industry for 10 years as a graphic designer for Hawaiian Island Creations. Contrast went to the Kicks shop to chop it up with Chris about the Kicks/HI x Stussy Honolulu x Zak Noyle capsule, which releases this weekend, but we actually got to hear a lot more about Chris’ views on surfing, the aloha spirit, Friday night’s event at Stussy and why he can’t pick a favorite piece from the Zak Noyle collaboration.
Daniel: Why did you guys want to work with Zak Noyle for this collaboration with Stussy Honolulu and Kicks Hawaii?
Chris Kam: We wanted to work with Zak for a while—him and his boy, Anthony, used to come to the [Kicks/HI] shop from when they were like, 13, 14 maybe, when we were still in the original shop upstairs. From that, we’ve seen [Zak] come in over the years then watched his art form grow. We always try to look for ways to partner with the right people in Hawai’i. We like local boys doing good—just artists in general from Hawai’i that are doing good for themselves and Hawai’i so this [Kicks/HI and Stussy Honolulu collab] came up and it made sense. Stussy was really willing to work with us on this one, offering us the multiple shirt option, the caps and the water bottle. It was egoing to be an even bigger pack, but we just didn’t have time to put it all together. We were trying to do a whole beach pack with a duffel bag, a towel and a full-blown kit, but time constraints and we wanted to launch it this year. As it was, it worked out really well.
What most impresses you about how far Zak Noyle has taken his surf photography?
I think—number one for me—is that he’s humble about it still. He takes these unreal shots, but he’s still a really approachable guy. He’s not a jerk or obnoxious about his craft. He answers questions about everything: real honest. That appeals to me. I like people who are just themselves and are not pretentious, which was really important. Just the way he sets up shots is really good. He has an eye for it. It’s not just a shot of a wave. I can tell he’s thinking about the angle and where he posts up in the barrel […] if he’s shooting for[Surfer] magazine he’s not just shooting the surfer or for the magazine, he’s also shooting for the audience.
You know what a mental surf shot looks like because you used to work in the surf industry at, huh?
I worked for over 10 years at HIC. I would say almost eight years in the art department. I helped develop logos for a lot of the team riders. I did some of Andy Irons graphic work. I did Koa’s [Cazimero] first logo. I did Da Braddahs logo. I helped with the Bu Lai’a campaign. Between me and my friend, Tyson [Miyahara], we did the bulk of the t-shirt designs, all the windows for all the stores, boardshort design and a ton of other stuff.
That’s rad! What’s your favorite piece in the Stussy Honolulu x Kicks Hawai’i x Zak Noyle capsule?
I think overall I like everything about it. It’s really natural. What we try to do with Kicks/HI and our collaboration projects is to do things that feel organic and nothing forced. This whole [capsule] to me is really natural. I can’t pick out one thing I like about it because as a whole it’s just amazing.
How does it feel to work with big companies, like Stussy, whose gear you rocked as a grom?
As a local boy, growing up you never thought you were ever going to work with a brand you wore as a kid—that’s incredible! It doesn’t cease to blow my mind every time I get to work with brands like Vans, Stussy, Nike or something like that.
Who was responsible for the “Increase the Aloha” tagline?
Because we’re doing this capsule with Stussy, that’s something that the Stussy Honolulu chapter is trying to jump off with. Talking with the guys at Stussy, this was [Kicks/HI’s] way of helping them push the project, but also push that idea/tagline they have for themselves in a way that benefits both of us and Hawai’i in general. You never can have too much “Aloha.” (laughs) There’s nothing like: “ho brah, this guy has too much Aloha.” Who says that? You know? Aloha spirit is something that needs to be perpetuated and any way we can bring that forward, whether it be a t-shirt, cap or something like that is great.
What can peeps expect from Friday night’s slide show and talk story with Zak?
What I hope they benefit from is to hear Zak talk about how he sets up a shot because if you look at any surf shot from any photographer and it’s a massive wave and it’s a barrel shot you don’t ever think of putting yourself in that situation. Try treading water for an hour. Then try doing with a camera in a water-housing. Then try doing it in 6- to 8-foot surf on the North Shore. Then setting up the shot so the horizon isn’t crooked or whatever. It’s something that’s really unique, and I think his insight will be valuable to people because you see a nice photo and you don’t always have access to the photographer.