A Hawaiian shirt is a short-sleeved, loose-fitting, open-collar shirt
originally worn in Hawaii, made of lightweight fabric printed in colorful, often
bold designs of flowers, leaves, birds, beaches, and other tropical island
is the 50th and most recent state of the United States of America, receiving
statehood on August 21, 1959. Hawaii is the only U.S. state located in Oceania
and the only one composed entirely of islands. Hawaii is the only U.S. state
not located in the Americas. Hawaii's diverse natural scenery, warm
tropical climate, abundance of public beaches, oceanic surroundings, and active
volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and
volcanologists. More important than all of that, Hawaii is famously stylish for
their Hawaiian shirts for men, women, and children.
The Hawaiian shirt which is more
officially called an Aloha shirt,
is a style of dress shirt originating in Hawaii.
What is a Hawaiian shirt?
The dress shirts are printed,
mostly short-sleeved, and collared. The design work is primarily tropical theme
prints. They usually have buttons,
sometimes for the entire length of the dress shirt, and sometimes just down to
the chest (pullover). Aloha dress shirts usually have a left chest pocket sewn
in, often with attention to ensure the printed pattern remains continuous. Aloha
shirts may be worn by men or women; women's aloha shirts usually have a
lower-cut, v-neck style. The lower hem is straight, as the shirts are not meant
to be tucked in.
Aloha shirts exported to the mainland United States and
elsewhere are called Hawaiian shirts and often brilliantly colored with floral
patterns or generic Polynesian motifs and are worn as casual, informal wear.
In regard to Hawaiian exports, the Aloha shirt is among the leading apparel
exports. In addition to wholesaling the garments to retailers in the other
states of the country, many shirts are sold directly to tourists that visit the
beautiful islands on holiday.
Do Hawaiian’s wear the same aloha shirts as tourists?
Traditional men's aloha shirts manufactured for local
Hawaiian residents are usually adorned with traditional Hawaiian quilt designs,
tapa designs, and simple floral patterns in more muted colors. Contemporary
aloha shirts may have prints that do not feature any traditional Hawaiian quilt
or floral designs and instead may have such elements as automobiles, drinks,
sports team logos, or other elements arranged in the same pattern as a
traditional aloha shirt.
Aloha shirts manufactured for local wear are considered
formal wear in business and government, and thus are regarded as equivalent to a
shirt, coat, and tie in all but the most formal of settings.
Malihini (newcomers living on the islands) and tourists
(visiting the islands) often wear designs of many bright colors while Kamaʻāina
(or those who have been living in the islands for a long time) seem to prefer
less busy patterns. However, this is obviously subjective and depends on who
you ask. Clearly people that have lived on the islands for a long time may
also wear the bright bold colors as well.
The aloha shirts often are printed on the interior,
resulting in the muted color on the exterior, and are called "reverse print".
For those not familiar, it may appear to be a defect in manufacturing as the
shirt appears to be sewn together inside-out.
History of the modern Hawaiian
The modern Aloha shirt was devised in the early 1930s by
Chinese merchant Ellery Chun of King-Smith Clothiers and Dry Goods, a store in
Waikiki. The first advertisement in the Honolulu Advertiser for Chun's Aloha
shirt was published on June 28, 1935. Local residents, especially surfers, and
tourists are said to have descended on Chun's store and bought out every shirt
he had. Within years, major designer labels sprung up all over Hawaii and began
manufacturing and selling Aloha shirts in more significant quantities.
After World War II, many servicemen and servicewomen
returned to the United States from Asia and the Pacific islands with aloha
shirts made in Hawaii since the 1930s. Tourists began flocking to Hawaii in the
1950s as faster airplanes allowed for easier travel and the former U.S.
territory became a state in 1959.
Alfred Shaheen, a textile
manufacturer, revolutionized the garment industry in postwar Hawaii by
designing, printing and producing aloha shirts and other ready-to-wear items
under one roof. The tropical-print shirts
for men and sundresses for women became standard.
Is it geographically
irresponsible to wear Hawaiian shirts with
If you wish to shop for this style of top, you may want
to check the
Hawaiian shirt stores in our retailer directory.
You may also want to learn about
The "Surfs up", time to take off the novelty shirt and
toss on some board shorts and a
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