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History of the 'Aloha' Shirt

After big wave surfing and luau, one of the most infamous things about Hawaii has to be its distinctive attire.

Breezy, colourful and often adorned in bold floral prints, it's not hard to envisage a Hawaiian shirt!

And, just like last summer, these bright patterns are, once again, set to be a big trend this upcoming season.

But where exactly did their aesthetic appeal begin? 

The shirts originated in the '20s and '30s, when immigrants began arriving in Hawaii and brought with them various fashions and fabrics from their home countries.

Kimono cloth came from Japan and, from the Philipines came barong tagalogs (shirts designed to be worn untucked).

Together with the traditional Hawaiian block pattern, these elements made up the 'palaka': a shirt worn by workers on the sugar cane plantations.

Noticing that mainland tourist had expressed interest in the style, Yale economics graduate, Ellery Chun, began to produce copies for them as souvenirs, using any leftover kimono fabric from his father's dry goods store in Waikiki.

They sold quickly and were soon termed 'Aloha shirts' by the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper.

By the 50s, they were popular in Hollywood, with everyone from Elvis Presley to President Eisenhower spotted in Alohas. 

Even in the '70s Tom Selleck kept them in fashion by donning them in his role on Magnum.

Today they're a rich element on fashion week catwalks, with design houses like Marc Jacobs featuring them in his collections.

So, from work wear to runway, Alohas are arguably as fashionable today as they were nearly a century ago.

We're excited to tell you all you will be able to grab your Longsands take on one of these beautiful shirts! 


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