Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Hawaiian (or aloha) shirt

When we think of Hawaii, we tend to think of sunshine, beaches, Waikiki, tropicality in some form.

30th floor view of Waikiki Beach


I certainly don't deny any of this but there's another side of Hawaii related to clothing that is distinctive - instantly recognizable at a glance. So what is Hawaii's contribution to the sartorial world, or at least fashion in the conventional sense?

The Hawaiian or aloha shirt of course. The shoe retailer Leather Soul is a close runner-up! The best examples of this shirt style seem to have been made in the first half of the 20th century. At least that's the consensus among aficionados.

Bailey's Aloha Shirts storefront

If vintage is your thing, visit Bailey's Aloha Shirts just north of the Waikiki district in Honolulu. They carry a large assortment of vintage shirts from Reyn Spooner, Tori Richards, Kahala Shirts and many others. The market for these shirts is nothing to sneeze at. Bailey's most expensive example is a $4,500 vintage shirt with a very unusual design, probably a one-off.

Bailey's Aloha Shirts

If you're interesting in reading up further, check out Dale Hope's book, The Aloha Shirt: Spirit Of The Islands.

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