The Evolution of the Hawaiian Shirt
Casual, flashy and occasionally quirky, the so-called ‘aloha shirt’ is the most unique fashion icon. In the space of a century, it managed to go from a novelty item to one of the most celebrity-endorsed garments ever.
This season, we explored its many facets and created a bunch of sophisticated versions to shake up your summer wardrobe.
There is still some dispute over the origin of the Hawaiian shirt.
Whether it was the brainchild of a second-generation Japanese immigrant named Miyamoto Koichiro who started tailoring shirts with traditional Japanese fabrics or a genius idea by Chinese-American fabric merchant Ellery Chun, who actually coined the name ‘Aloha shirt’, what we know for sure is that this all happened around the 1930s and that around the 1950s this unique garment was already known worldwide.
Popularized by US Servicemen who returned from Hawaii after WW II and sold to tourists visiting the islands as a souvenir, it was also extensively endorsed by celebrities for decades, all the way from Elvis Presley and The Beach Boys to Tom Selleck in Magnum PI, John Travolta in Pulp Fiction and Jim Carrey in the Ace Ventura movies.
And thus this uniquely conceived garment, matching a laid-back, relaxed fit with bright colors and patterns mixing American, Japanese, and Hawaiian influences, became a bold fashion statement, still managing to preserve part of its ethnic heritage and ‘novelty item’ flavor.
So what makes an authentic Aloha shirt?
The quintessential element of a Hawaiian shirt is the print, typically floral or featuring plants, leaves, palm trees, and the occasional splash of ocean waves and sunset landscapes, birds, tigers, and dragons.
Although often bright and multiple, colors may even be limited to a two-tone scheme for a touch of sophistication.
The fit is generally loose, with short sleeves and a camp collar, a patch pocket on the left side, and a button-up front closure.
How to wear an Aloha shirt for summer 2022
There is no limit to how you can style a Hawaiian shirt.
Choose the color scheme that suits you best, dress it up or down, shake things a little and find your own combo.
Here’s our pick: over a white tee, buttoned or unbuttoned, with jeans or shorts. Paired with faded black skinny jeans. With a pair of classic trousers.