The Hawaiian shirt is a true vintage classic, an iconic look that has lasted through the decades and is now a staple in the summer style staples. Whether you’re inspired by a retro film or your uncle’s holiday style, there’s no doubt that its influence is everywhere in fashion. So we’ve decided to delve into the history of this iconic shirt, from its origins to the big pop culture moments that have kept the Hawaiian shirt back to the forefront of men’s fashion.
The Origin of the Hawaiian Shirt
Even though Hawaii was self-governed in the 1880s there was still a massive presence of US-run businesses. Seeking cheap labour, American business owners recruited from all corners of the world, from China, Korea and Portugal, but most importantly to the Aloha shirt, Japanese immigrants.
Why was this important?
Aloha shirts have strong Japanese roots as these immigrants often brought with them bright kimono fabrics. Filipino and Chinese immigrants also play a role by bringing barong talongs, a type of traditional untucked shirt, and multicoloured silks.
These foreign influences, paired with Hawaiian native Kapa cloth clothes, were instrumental in creating the Hawaiian shirt.
Fast forward to the 1920s where Gordon Young, a student at the University of Hawaii, worked with his mother’s dressmaker to create a ‘pre-aloha shirt’. Using Japanese Yutaka cloth, known to be used by Japanese women for work kimonos. Patterns included blue or black bamboo and geometric designs on white backgrounds. Soon enough, these became popular with his classmates in Hawaii. Young later attended the University of Washington, bringing his shirts with him, turning heads aplenty and sparking a lot of fashion debate.
It wasn’t until the 30s that the Aloha shirt really started to increase in popularity. The key to this was Ellery Chun, a local businessman who had just graduated from Yale in 1931. He transformed a Chinese dry goods shop into the first mass producer of Hawaiian shirts, coining the term “Aloha-shirts” and making them a must-have of Honolulu.
The Mass production of Hawaiian Shirts
Shortly after, Hawaiian shirts went into mass production. Alfred Shaheen was at the forefront of this, during the 50s his textile company ‘Shaheen’s of Honolulu’ was the largest producing Hawaiian shirts in Hawaii. Aloha shirts for men were his big speciality, but his range also included sarong dresses for women, the first of their kind being made in large-scale. As sales boomed, Shaheen hired teams of artists to design new motifs for fabrics, with artists experimenting with prints and producing non-traditional coconut tree’s, oriental fish and surfers.
Other big names such a Kamehameha and Duke Kahanamoku, as well as Shaheen’s of Honolulu, helped turn the Hawaiian shirt from a novelty tourist item into a commercially traded product.
Our 6 Favourite Hawaiian Shirt Moments In Pop Culture
From Here to Eternity, 1953.
Hollywood in the 50s really embraced the shirt. Shaheen was big on celebrity endorsement, encouraging all the biggest Hollywood stars to wear his pieces, helping them break through to more mainstream fashion in America. They became immortalised on the silver screen with Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine, Montgomery Clift, and Burt Lancaster all wearing them in the 1953 movie classic, “From Here to Eternity.” making them a staple in movie fashion history.
Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii, 1961.
Elvis was THE style icon of his time, breaking boundaries in men's fashion throughout his career, capturing the imagination of the world. When the King of Rock n Roll starred in Blue Hawaii, he was the perfect model for Shaheen’s Hawaiian Shirts. Coupled with an iconic soundtrack and set in paradise, Elvis made the Hawaiian shirt the perfect item for a summer holiday on the beach.
Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I., 1980-1988.
This American crime drama set in Hawaiian became an overnight success, ranking in the top 20 TV shows in the US for most of the 80s. As the key character, Tom Selleck’s stardom exploded, and his relaxed summer style featuring multiple Hawaiian shirts in a dazzling array of colours and prints, along with short shorts, baseball caps and accessorised with lots of chest hair and a giant tash, became one of the most recognisable looks of the decade.
Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, 1994.
Just when you thought the Hawaiian shirt’s loud colours had been left in the 80s, the outlandish comedian Jim Carrey somehow brings it back for his bizarre character in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Not the most obvious source of style inspo, Carrey works an open Hawaiian shirt over a white t-shirt and flashy trousers making it modern, fun and wonderfully weird.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Romeo + Juliet, 1996.
This was quite possibly the best film of the 90s, with Baz Luhrmann adapting William Shakespeare’s classic without changing the language, but updating the location, music and style, taking it to dizzying heights of cool. Leonardo DiCaprio cemented his 90s heartthrob status for life in this film, and his beautiful collection of Hawaiian shirts, also worn by his crew The Montagues, showcase how to make this look effortlessly cool.
Johnny Depp, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 1998.
A modern classic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a trippy adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s American Dream novel that became a cult hit. Johnny Depp took his wardrobe into his own hands, managing to get a hand on items that really did belong to Thompson himself, including his iconic Hawaiian shirts. This bad boy take on the relaxed summer look was combined with hazy yellow sunglasses, bucket hats and converse, perfect for an endless, potentially trippy, summer.
How to style a Hawaiian shirt
Feeling inspired by our top classic Hawaiian shirt moments? We've chosen 3 easy styles perfect for everyday wear whether your off on holiday, having a weekend at a festival or just hanging out with your mates.
Hit the beach in a classic Hawaiian shirt and add some fresh colours to your holiday wardrobe. Whether you're looking for scenic beach prints, palm leaf patterns or a novelty parrot motif, we have a Hawaiian shirt for every occasion. Style with beach trunks or shorts for an easy breezy look to handle the heat.
Shop bold Hawaiian print perfect for a summer full of festivals. Layer over your favourite vintage t-shirt to put your own style stamp on this classic look. Don’t forget your favourite 90s sunnies to hide tired eyes!
Skater Street Style
This low key look is perfect for a weekend in the city, at the skate park or the pub. Pair with your trusty old pair of Vans and jeans and you’ve got a great look for day to night.
Already got your vintage Hawaiian shirt but it needs some TLC? Check out our vintage care guide to sewing a button to help you keep your item for longer!
The 1970s and denim go hand in hand together like Jimmy Hendrix and a guitar, or Bianca Jagger and a white horse at Studio 54. From flares and double denim to skirts long and short the decade shifted denim from a Counterculture statement to a fast fashion must have. We take a look at some of our favourite 1970s denim fashion moments to help you get the perfect look online and in store.
Flares in any shape and form are synonymous with the 70s, starting life off as Naval bell-bottoms bought by the youth as a distinctive sign of a Counterculture lifestyle. The demand for these recycled Navy uniform trousers outweighed supply and those who wanted the look started to get creative by cutting open the side seams of straight legged jeans and adding extra panels of contrasting fabric.
Manufactures and stores quickly caught on to the DIY flared jeans, and it wasn’t long before a flared jean could be seen in every High Street window. From Farrah Fawcett to the teenagers on the street, flared jeans were the staple of 1970s denim fashion.
The Wrangler Jacket
Denim jackets can be attached to many eras but for the 70s must have it was the Wrangler Blue Bell 11MJ. Made famous by John Lennon it is near impossible to find a photo of Lennon in the 70s without his favourite piece of Wrangler denim.
The Denim Skirt
The denim skirt was born in the 70s as a way to recycle damaged denim in the awakening of the environmentally conscious consumer. They came in all lengths from a take on the 60s mini to the longer bohemian cut with raw hems, centre front o-ring zips and the humble patchwork.
Originally the staple of Cowboys and Miners of Gold Rush California, double denim much like the flare became a popular 70s trend. One of the many advocates of the double denim look was Sonny and Cher. Sonny, in fact, was the first man on television to ever wear denim. Denim came to symbolise a fresh all – American sexuality so the more denim, the better!
With so many 70s pieces in store and online, it is so easy to recreate your own 1970s denim fashion moment or mix and match with your own style. Perhaps try your own bit of DIY on the unloved denim in the back of your wardrobe to create that patchwork look. If we can recommend one thing though is to try double denim, it may change your life!
Words Hugo Harris
Now we all know that the Cheese Burger was invented at the 1904 St Louis World Fair and Donuts were introduced by the Dutch settlers of New York, duuuhhh, but have you ever looked at your trusty canvas cons and queried “WHERE ARE YOU FROM, HOW DID YOU GET HERE?”
But we just got our mitts on a whole bunch, so I’m about to drop some serious Chuck knowledge with a brief history of Converse.
In the Beginning
Believe it or not, Converse All-stars were not invented for maximum traction on booze-soaked indie/nu rave dance floors of the early to mid-2000s. Nor were they invented to help assist the anarchy uprising of the mid-70s. The first incarnation was actually invented over 100 years ago in 1917, for the newly emerging American sport of basketball. The flat-footed, zero shock absorbent first Converse shoe was actually made for physical activity. Mental.
Original Converse ‘Non-Skid”, note no Chuck signature
Surprisingly, the All-Star was quite technologically advanced for its time. The rubber ‘ non-skid’ sole and the lightweight Canvas was the tits in 1917 and by 1918 they were making 20,000 shoes a day! It wasn’t till 1921 that a man named Chuck Taylor changed Converse forever.
Chuck Taylor, a semi-pro basketball player, started wearing the first Converse shoes in 1920. Converse noted this and gave him a job as a salesman and brand ambassador and toured America with his Converse team showing off their kicks. During these tours, Chuck suggested some design tweaks to Converse to help improve the flexibility and ankle support of the ‘Non-skids’. Converse adopted his ideas and in 1932 slapped his signature on the ankle patch and the Converse All Star we know today was born!
Chuck Taylor, great posture, greater shoe designer.
The Sports Sneaker
Converse All Stars quickly became America’s preferred basketball sneaker. It was the official shoe of the Olympics from 1936 to 1968 and during WWII All stars were the official athletic training shoes of the U.S armed forces.
Post World War II the Chuck Taylor All Stars became sporting standard for all basketballers, from Highschool gyms to the Pro NBA and ABA leagues, everyone was wearing Chucks on the hardcourt. It was so popular that in the 1960s Converse had captured 70-80% of the basketball market share, to put that in perspective industry leader Nike has about 40% of the basketball share today.
Trends and technology changed but Converse All Stars remained the same, and the inability to adapt to the sports market meant that the Chucks slowly faded out of the realm of the athletic sneaker world. The classic canvas All Star was last seen on the NBA court worn by Tree Rollins in the ‘79-80 NBA season, 63 years after the Chuck Taylor All Stars was born.
Tree Rollins, wearing canvas All Stars
Off the Court
Fortunately for Converse, another movement was shaking during Converse’s basketball boom. Back in the 50s, wearing athletic sneakers outside of the gym was seen as a slightly rebellious act, similar to Marlon Brando wearing underwear (a T-shirt) and blue jeans on the silver screen. Greasers started to slowly adopt Chucks and wore it as a subtle fuck you to the tie wearing, straight-laced “Man”. Converse’s low price point also helped, due to the no-frills canvas and rubber construction, it was affordable to the working-class and teens.
Rock n Roll
This counterculture association stuck and started gaining more traction throughout the decades. Slowly, Converse All Stars became apart of the uniform of nonconforming Youth. By the mid-70s, the counterculture explosion of punk reared it’s scraggy face and wrapped around its feet was our mate Chuck- The first commercially successful basketball sneaker, one of the first mass-produced sneaker, had become a punk footwear staple- OH THE IRONY. What also may have helped that the two largest punk bands on either side of the pond, The Ramones and The Sex Pistols, were also donning them and that they also looked mint in a pair of drainpipe jeans.
Ever since Converse, All Stars have become synonymous with music and individualism.
Hair metal, Gangsta Rap, Grunge, Post Punk, Indie and New Rave; the music trends changed but the shoes remained the same.
Converse on the Catwalk
These subconscious advertisements from industry leading musicians and artists helped Converse gain a certified ‘classic’ and ‘cool’ rep and with Converse’s current and past collaborations with brands such as Off White, Comme des Garcons, Carhartt, J W Anderson and Dover Street Market, the classic Converse All Star will continue to remain relevant for another 100 years.
Icons and artists who braved the bleeding heel blisters of Converse All Stars include: Eddie Vedder, Farrah Fawcett, Elvis, David Bowie, Robert Plant, Blur, James Hatfield, The Strokes (and every Indie band of the 2000s), Drake, Wiz Khalifa, Hunter S Thompson, Jane Birkin, Pharrell etc etc.
Rapper Ice Cube
Robert Plant and his lemon rocking the reds.
Teenage Heartthrob turned Dad bod spokesman, Leo in Basketball Diaries
Gonzo Journalist Pioneer, Hunter S. Thompson in the white ‘Oxford’ All stars
Elvis, not Costello, wearing Converse on set
1970s style icon Jane Birkin
Words Damien Watt
WonderBras, corsets, push-ups and girdles; styles and fashions in women's lingerie have reflected not only the changing trends in women's fashion but also changes in societal attitudes to beauty, the body and politics.
Check out our break down of the history of lingerie and the changing trends and styles from the Mid 19th century lingerie to the 1990s.
1850 - 1900
Crinolines and corsets were standard elements of a fashionable ladies dress in the mid - 19th century. During this century skirts were voluminous and bell-shaped, the desired effect was first achieved by layering a large number of petticoats together.
In 1856 they were replaced by the cage crinoline - a hooped petticoat made from flexible steel. Skirt s continued to expand and they reached their maximum proportions around 1860. Skirts were so enormous two ladies could not sit together on the same sofa!
'Camille' by Monet 1866 - shows the vast hooped skirt that was fashionable at the time
A crinoline, courtesy of the V & A
1900 - 1910s
During the Edwardian period, fashion as always reflected the mood of the age. It was a decade defined by everything that was larger than life-size (for those who could afford it) in an age of excess and extravagance.
In fashion busts too became bigger, the effect was emphasised by the so-called 'health' corsets which were designed to relieve pressure on the abdomen, made the body firmly straight in front, by throwing back the hips and throwing forward the bust. This formed the body into an S-shaped stance so distinctive of the period.
During the 1920's skirts became shorter and waistlines dropped, this sleek and slinky silhouette was unforgiving to any form of bulky lingerie. An androgynous silhouette was the fashionable shape of choice throughout the roaring jazz-fuelled 20's - the bust was entirely boyish and women even took to wearing flatteners and lightweight slips in newly invented fabrics to achieve the desired effect.
The 1930's is renowned as the Golden Age of Hollywood and of glitz and glamour. Fashion looked to burgeoning Hollywood starlets for style inspiration. There was an emphasis on backless dresses bared to the waist, many of the dresses of the period looked as if they had been designed to be seen from the rear.
With developments in fibre technology, fabrics, colours, patterns and innovations with adjustable straps, padded bras and cup sizing, bras became more sophisticated than ever before and allowed for a more versatile approach to dress especially when it came to backless dresses. Wasp waists were also back in fashion coming into the 40's. In the summer of 1939, Vogue's reporter noted 'you must have a tiny waist, held in if necessary by super-light-weight boned and laced corsets'.
Tony Frissel for Vogue, 1938
Fabric shortages throughout the war impacted trends and styles in fashion, the waist remained nipped with skirts coming to just below the knee. The 'make-do and mend' campaign encouraged women to re-make and update their wardrobe by hand. Military terminology crept into everyday product marketing with the conical 'bullet bra' increasing in popularity, offering support and protection.
Dior's revolutionary 'New Look' in the late 40's waists were heavily corseted, hips were padded and shoulders softened with an emphasis on the bust. This hourglass silhouette was achieved with the help of a strong girdle, with attached suspenders to hold up stockings.
Pointed brassieres or bullet bras remained popular into the 1950's, helping to achieve the ultra-feminine look that was favoured throughout this decade.
Despite the sexual and feminist revolution of the 1960s many trend-led young women often looked like children, dressed in baby doll dresses, puffed sleeves, pinafores, gymslips and the Knickerbockers.
Lingerie reflected these styles with cute nighties, frilly knickers and unstructured brassieres becoming popular throughout the decade.
The cutesy styles of the previous decade were set aside in favour of a more sophisticated and sexy look. Lingerie became daring and luxurious with the use of silks, satins and sequins utilized to create the underwear for the decade of disco.
The lingerie of the 80's projected a bold, youthful and overtly sexual image. This was the decade that brought us thongs and G-strings with lingerie designers drawing inspiration from fetishistic corsetry and lacing.
The 90's saw the trend for underwear as outerwear fronted by the chameleon queen of pop, Madonna and also infamously known for her conical bra. This was also the decade of the WonderBra worn by supermodel Eva Herzigova.
Eva Herzigova in Wonderbra's 90's billboard campaign
Shop our selection of vintage lingerie here or for some more fashion history read our history of Levis jeans here.