Hawaiian shirts have been a staple in the market for decades. Their history began in the 1930s in Waikiki, a neighborhood in Honolulu, the capital of the state of Hawaii. It was there that some shirt manufacturers decided to hire local artists to create new floral patterns for their garments.
Over time, these types of shirts have been manufactured in different parts of the world, becoming a nearly universal design. To protect their creation, the manufacturers who invented the model decided in the 1950s to start leaving their mark on the shirts they produced.
For this reason, the originals have «Made in Hawaii» written on their label.
It’s practically impossible for a tourist to return from this island without having acquired one, as they have become a true symbol. There, they are considered formal wear that can replace the traditional shirt and tie. They have even become part of the uniform for Hawaiian authorities.
Today, they are one of the most sought-after items by vintage clothing collectors. The basic model is short-sleeved with buttons on the front and is made of cotton. However, there are truly elaborate shirts to be found, made from materials like silk or even hand-painted.
Part of the popularity of this vintage garment came from iconic figures such as Elvis Presley, who wore a Hawaiian shirt on the cover of the Blue Hawaii soundtrack. They were also showcased in the cinematic masterpiece From Here to Eternity, where characters played by Frank Sinatra and Burt Lancaster donned several of these garments. Bing Crosby and John Wayne were also seen on occasion wearing them. Their popularity reached such heights that they made it to the White House with President Harry Truman.