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3 Iconic Hawaiian Aloha Shirts And The Story Behind Them

Surely no one is strange with the shirt with colorful tropical plants that we often encounter on the street in summer. But where exactly does this shirt come from, or inspire from? Read our post about 3 iconic Hawaiian Aloha shirts and the story behind them to know more.

The Original Story – Hawaiian Aloha Shirts


Just like many other stories about the pivotal origins, the precise party in charge of the Aloha shirt’s birth is difficult to pin down. And here is one of the most famous stories.

During the Depression era in the 1930s, Ellery Chun, a shirt maker comes from Honolulu, made shirts out of extra Japanese yukata cloth he had. Then, he sold the first shirts in his store of his father in Waikiki. He decorated the shirts with bold tropical prints and named the shirts as Dry Goods and King-Smith Clothiers. He also added an “Aloha Shirts” sign on each piece and this term’s first copyright belonged to Chun. He sold each shirt for $1. 

Both the locals and tourists loved his designs and bought out all he had. Within just a few years, the Aloha shirt became the main design trend. Retail chains at that time mass-produced these colorful and bright shirts out of silky rayon material.

Designers and artists started to portray their island landscapes on cloth. They also replaced

Japanese classics with flowers, hula girls, palm trees, surfers, and thatched huts. More interesting, by the 1960s, “Aloha Friday” had become a convention in the state of Hawaii. On this day, Hawaiian can wear aloha attire in their workplace. 

Adored by American presidents, Hollywood stars, and collectors, the Aloha shirt has set off a custom across the globe.

Here are the 3 most iconic Aloha shirts in the garment’s history.

Elvis Presley’s “Blue Hawaii” Shirt


One of the most impressive ideas of the Aloha shirt is the advertising picture for the 1961 movie “Blue Hawaii” by Elvis Presley. Along with the movie is the soundtrack album of the identical name.

 Bob Sato designed this red print and named it Tiare Tapa. He then sent it to the revolutionary material producer and creator Alfred Shaheen to manufacture it. Today, you can easily buy the shirt in many retail chains with a diversity of styles for both genders.

Tom Selleck’s Red Jungle Bird Shirt – Hawaiian Aloha Shirts


The signature red Jungle Bird shirt of Tom Selleck appeared in the famous 80s series “Magnum P.I.”. 

At first, the movie crew bought the shirt from Liberty House, a Hawaii store. But they then changed their mind. Instead of using pre-made shirts, they decided to purchase rolls of textile and custom-tailoring shirts for the actors.

In 1988, when the series ended, Selleck handed one of these shirts to the Smithsonian. This place is where the shirt is housed these days.

Montgomery Clift’s “Death Shirt”


Montgomery Clift starring Private Robert Prewitt wore this shirt in the 1953 classic movie, “From Here to Eternity”. The name of the shirt comes from his death scene in the movie. The movie also features other famous actors such as Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed, Deborah Kerr, and Burt Lancaster.

This blockbuster finally won the Oscar and Academy Award. One of the most unforgettable scenes is the death of Clift. The shirt he wore in this shot is a dark-colored Kahanamoku border shirt with wispy clouds, palm trees, and Diamond Head in the background.

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Maris Lopez
Maris Lopezhttp:////
Hey there! I'm Maris, an American girl who is passionate about adventure, the outdoors and all things travel!



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