The origins of the Hawaiian shirt may be obvious, but the reasoning why might not be. Around 1904 Japanese immigrant, Chotaro Miyamoto began using Japanese Kimono fabrics to produce shirts but it wasn’t until 30 years later when Chinese merchant, Ellery Chun utilized the same fabrics for use in a short sleeve button down shirt, the standard Hawaiian shirt design that we still see today.
Locals rushed to Chun’s shop and the new design was quickly sold out. After discovering the vibrant designs and the popularity behind them, major fashion labels began replicating Chun’s styles and soon Hawaiian shirts were being sold everywhere around the island.
During the mid 40’s, post-World War II, many soldiers that were stationed in Hawaii began wearing the shirts and they soon become a highly coveted souvenir for tourists. Finally, it 1961, the trend was taken by storm after Elvis Presley was seen wearing a Hawaiian shirt on the cover of the soundtrack for Blue Hawaii.
Fast forward fifty some years and Hawaiian shirts are still very much in style. Designers from Ralph Lauren to Calvin Klein continue to produce new Hawaiian designs and people continue to buy.