Say Aloha to your new Hawaiian shirts and good-rhythms to your regular shirts or boring t-shirts. Also known as “Aloha” shirts, they are colorful and always fun to wear and showed up in Hawaii around the 1930s. They did not become popular until Elvis Presley and other movie stars wore them in the movies. In fact, Tom Selleck made the Hawaiian shirt fashionable during the Magnum PI series. In Hawaii, aloha shirts are just regular clothing for formal events all over the islands, especially in tropical weather where a suit and tie are just not practical. The type of Hawaiian shirts considered formal wear are normally of designs that are muted and subdued. There are also shirts from the 50s or earlier that are saw after by collectors of vintage Hawaiian shirts. This buyer’s guide should educate those who want to get the true feeling of “Aloha” by wearing and collecting Hawaiian shirts.
History of the Hawaiian Shirt
Yale graduate Ellery Chun is considered the creator of the Hawaiian shirt. In the 1930s, Chun graduated with a degree in Economics and returned home to his native Hawaii, then started his own shop, King-Smith Clothiers in Waikiki. One day, he had some leftover kimono fabric, and using this fabric, he starting sewing the brightly patterned shirts for tourists. Servicemen and women went home after World War II with these shirts, and with the start of air travel, crowds of tourists began coming to Hawaii.
Visitors could not get enough of these shirts, and soon an entire industry was born. Different companies followed suit, yet they still could not keep them on the shelves. Fabric like rayon and cotton had to be sourced from Japan, and eventually silk was used as well. Designers had to travel to Japan to have island prints and designs specially made for the Hawaiian market. Eventually, mainland mills and local mills were also producing the bright tropical prints. Today, these textiles remain Hawaii’s biggest export product.
Types of Hawaiian Shirts
Although Hawaiian shirts prints may look similar to most people, there are actually different types of Hawaiian shirts according to style and design. The following are the types of Hawaiian shirts we know:
Typical or All-over Print Hawaiian Shirt Design
The most common type is the all-over design Hawaiian shirt. These shirts can be found at many tourist shops all over the islands and abroad, featuring a repetitive design all over the shirt in a uniform manner. These shirts usually are not cut to keep the design or print matching evenly in the middle area where the buttons meet, which means not much skill is needed to create these shirts.
Panel Design Hawaiian Shirts
These shirts are similar to the all-over Hawaiian shirt with a recurring pattern. However, as the name implies, panel shirts have their prints arranged in vertical panels (like flower leis), usually beginning on either side of the buttons.
Border Hawaiian Shirts
These shirts feature designs that go across the shirt from left to right. These feature a repeating pattern (like rows of woody cars, palm trees or flowers) recurring across the chest. Hawaiian shirts with border designs at the bottom are called bottom design Hawaiian shirts. These shirts must be worn untucked to fully show and appreciate the design.
Scenic Hawaiian Shirts
These shirts also have recurring patterns like the basic Hawaiian shirts in a uniform manner. But they show various Hawaiian-related scenery like Diamond Head, palm trees on a beach, sunrises and sunsets, or anything that evokes a relaxing feeling as if being on vacation. To show the full landscape design, the fabric needs to be cut in a way to ensure the print remains seamless as the scene moves across the front and back of the shirt.
Engineered Hawaiian Shirts
They have the most seamless designs of all the different types of aloha shirts, with a large pattern image recurring through the front and back. The image continues uninterrupted across the shirt, even at the buttons. These are another type of shirt that needs to be worn untucked to truly be appreciated.
Matched Hawaiian Shirt
Matched print Hawaiian shirts meet perfectly at the buttons, allowing for a seamless image. These shirts require a lot of attention to detail and skill on the part of the designer and seamstress to ensure that the design flows without any interruptions.
Improvements in garment manufacturing in Hawaii featured modern shirt styles more fitted and most of the types of Hawaiian shirts have matching pockets that makes them practically invisible.
Reversed Fabric Hawaiian Shirts
To tone down the colors of Hawaiian fabrics, manufacturers make some styles of Hawaiian shirts with the reverse fabric showing out. These type of shirts are normally made as dress up shirts and are very popular with Hawaii’s professionals. The craftsmanship of reversed design Hawaiian shirts is normally of higher quality and therefore a little more pricy.
Fabrics for Hawaiian Shirt
Today Hawaiian shirts are made from different types of fabrics. These fabrics vary depending on the types of fiber used in weaving, as well as the techniques for making them. Here are the different types of fabrics used to make Hawaiian shirts.
Cotton – Woven from fibers of the cotton pod; Hawaiian cotton shirts are comfortable in hot weather (absorbs sweat and allows it to evaporate) and cold weather (fibers retain heat); many Hawaiian shirts are made of the semi-transparent cotton lawn fabric.
Poly Cotton – A fabric that blends polyester (a synthetic fabric) and cotton fibers; retains its shape well, but does not breathe as easy as 100 percent cotton; cannot withstand high temperatures. Most poly cotton Hawaiian shirts combinations are 55% cotton and 45% polyester.
Polyester Microfiber – This is a type of ultra-fine fabric made from synthetic materials; absorbs sweat easily to keep the person cooler; dries fast and is durable.
Rayon – Semi-synthetic fabric made to be an alternative to expensive silk; resistant to heat; lightweight, flexible; high quality but wrinkles easily. Hawaiian shirts made of rayon are soft and have a relaxed feeling to it.
Silk – A smooth, natural fiber made from silkworm secretions; hypoallergenic and breathable; attractive and durable; delicate and difficult to care for. Silk Aloha shirts are normally imported.
Today manufacturers of Hawaiian shirts that are in Hawaii, will use a varying types of fabrics and materials to keep up with the demand. There are also designers that specialize in certain types of materials to cater to exclusive clientele. For example, Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirts are specially made of silk as they cater to more upscale clientele who may want to use their shirts for formal occasions. On the other hand, Two Palms Hawaii brand goes for the more casual, family look, and chooses to use cotton and rayon fabrics for its shirts and other Hawaiian clothes.
How to Buy a Hawaiian Shirt
Nowadays you don’t need to jump on a plane to get an authentic Hawaiian shirt. Shaka Time Hawaii has a large selection with hundreds of classic and one of a kind items like long sleeve Hawaiian shirts and colorful aloha shirts. To begin, go to www.shakatime.com and tap on the menu to the Hawaiian shirts link. Once you are done with your shopping, checkout and sign-in to your account, or register for one. Every account is free and secure and will make your future shopping much more enjoyable and easier. Shaka Time offer free shipping with standard service, or if you need your order faster, simply select the other expedited options. To complete your order, you can use your credit card or PayPal or Amazon Payments; it is very convenient and fast.
Searching for a Hawaiian Shirt on Amazon
Finding Hawaiian shirts on Amazon is as easy as typing in relevant terms in the search box located on the front page. Did you know that Shaka Time Hawaii is also on Amazon? Just enter the key terms “Hawaiian aloha fashions” in the box and press "search," or hit enter on your keyboard. Authentic Hawaiian shirts can also be found under several categories and subcategories, such as Hawaiian Clothing, Men's Clothing, and Vintage aloha shirts.
Buying Hawaiian Shirts in Bulk
While Hawaiian shirts are fun pieces to have in any wardrobe, they can also make good uniforms or perhaps cool groomsmen outfits for tropical beach weddings. If you want to buy several Hawaiian shirts of the same or similar design, be sure to go to the Hawaiian clothing wholesale section of Shaka Time Hawaii. If you want to buy several shirts from the same color or theme, you should type in your search terms in the "Search" box to find the Hawaiian shirts.
The Hawaiian shirt is the essence of island living, comfortable, relaxed, and unpretentious. The transformed from a common souvenir into a cultural fashion icon, worn by everyone from movie stars to presidents. The making of authentic Aloha shirts exploded into an entire industry, and today it is one of Hawaii’s most popular exports. Although these shirts feature a great variety of designs, from scenic to classic cars, they are usually categorized by the way the patterns are designed, namely, classic all-over or basic print, scenic, panel, border, reversed, engineered, and matched.
The materials most manufactures use to make Hawaiian shirts nowadays are cotton, poly-cotton, poly-microfiber, rayon, and silk. These beautiful shirts can be bought online, and Shaka Time Hawaii is one the premier sites where people can purchase Hawaiian shirts. Just by wearing a Hawaiian shirt, people’s faces fill with joy and a relaxed island feeling.