The streetstyle and parade were clearly in fashion this season as they began to put the Hawaiian shirt at the forefront of menswear. Not least since the 2000s, when tropical palm brands such as Quiksilver were so popular, we have seen these colorful and colorful prints. Previously it had been demoted to the rails of vintage stores, classified for its comical appeal, or simply limited to memories of old vacation snapshots. Not any longer longer
There were lush foliage from Kim Jones to Louis Vuitton; from the burning deserts of Demna Gvasalia to Balenciaga; Hibiscus flowers (studs, leopard print and much more) at DSquared; Dries Van Noten showed muted and attenuated versions; MSGM recording depends on Californian surfers; while Salvatore Ferragamo has opted for some coastal anchor in the Mediterranean; and Paul Smith combined carp and coral with a decorative effect. And that does not even consider the spectators themselves, who were already seduced by the charm of the shirt.
In the middle of the male spectrum, with streetwear at one end and dandy at the other, the Hawaiian shirt is easy to wear and has as much verve and sophistication as personality and casual appeal. Of course, long before its rebirth on the Spring / Summer runway shows in 2018 and the street clichés that currently dominate your Instagram feed, the Hawaiian shirt has a whole other story:
1. It is widely believed that the T-shirt dates back to the 1930s and the rise of American tourism to Hawaii, which became US state only in 1959, began. Small tailors began producing their local shirts, usually called Palaka, by making printed matter. Made from local tapa or bark fabric for this new wave of customers. The shirts were also worn by Hawaiians for special occasions.
2. Ellery Chun, a Honolulu graduate with a degree in Yale, studied economics and is considered the leading producer of Hawaiian shirts – and the minds behind her name.
3. Chun would have resumed the trend after a t-shirt maker called Musa-Shiya Shoten published an ad with “beautiful custom designs and colors brilliant in an issue of The Honolulu Advertiser for” Aloha “T-shirts from 1935 . “Chun quickly jumped on the idea and registered the Aloha trade name in 1936.
4. The prints on Hawaiian shirts were usually a mix of exotic flowers, plants and ocean scenes that blended the cultural influences of Tahiti, Japan and the Philippines. Sometimes viewed as glaring, cheap imitations were associated with tourists, while, higher in fashion, expensive styles of the food chain were characterized by their use of color and narrative design as a tribute to the Hawaiian heritage.
Elvis Presley in an excerpt from the movie Blue Hawaii. Photography: Getty
5. In 1950, Hawaiian Aloha clothing manufacturer Alfred Shaheen began to print his own fabric with patterns created by employees who avoided colors and clichés that were too strong. They started and this is one of his plans – which would now be sold at auction for tens of thousands of dollars – that in 1961 Elvis concentrated on the cover of Blue Hawaii.
6. Popular with surfers and beach boys, Hawaiian shirts have become the weekend of time out, a casual chic for men acceptable. President Harry Truman appeared on the cover of the Life Magazine in 1951, while President Nixon was photographed in 1960.
Leonardo di Caprio in Romeo + Juliet. Photography: Rex properties
7. In the 1980s, their appeal began to decline. But where the fashion was missing, the movie and the screen did not have it. The long list of Hawaiian pin-ups includes: Tom Selleck in Magnum, P.I., from 1980 to 1988; Al Pacino in Scarface (1983); Tom Cruise in the Cocktail (1988); Christian Slater in True Romance (1993); Brad Pitt at the Fight Club (1999); Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro in fear in Las Vegas (1998); Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet (1996) – and even Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura (1994). Oddly enough, in the movies, the shirt was a form of rebellion, rescue, flight and bohemia among the characters who wore it.
8. At the turn of the millennium, surf, skateboard and snowboard brands such as Quiksilver and Billabong had a spectacular climax. Since then, it is a bit quiet on the front of the Aloha shirt. Until now. As men’s fashion moves away from the street and the sport, the Milanese designers in Paris find their inspiration in the colorful shirt. All old homeless tourist boards are long gone.