Vintage Hawaiian Shirts: How to Find, Maintain, and Store a Piece of Hawaiian History
Beautiful and Authentic Hawaiian Shirts
While many cheap knock-offs are available on today's market, owning a vintage Hawaiian shirt is like owning a piece of island history. Manufactured from 1930-1950, vintage Hawaiian shirts are high quality garments made out of Rayon, cotton, or silk. Brilliant designs and intricate buttons lend quality detail to shirts that are truly works of art.
Authentic Shirts vs. Imposters
Authentic vintage Hawaiian shirts will be made out of Rayon, cotton, or silk. A Hawaiian shirt manufactured with Polyester is not vintage, as Polyester did not come into use until shirts were mass produced in the modern era.
Verify the Hawaiian shirt has a tag stating "Made in Hawaii." While some authentic vintage Hawaiian shirts were manufactured in Japan or California, the highest quality (and highest value) shirts were manufactured in Hawaii. Many vintage Hawaiian shirts will specify "Made in Honolulu."
Vintage Hawaiian shirts will have intricate buttons manufactured from coconut, shell, metal, or wood. Shirts from the later vintage period may also contain buttons made from Bakelite. The buttonholes are almost always horizontal in vintage Hawaiian shirts: modern reproductions often have vertical buttonholes.
Quality vintage Hawaiian shirts will be hemmed with a double seam, and will not have collar stays. The earliest Hawaiian shirts were manufactured from silk or cotton, but Rayon Hawaiian shirts have the most value, since they hold up well over time.
Consult a list of authentic vintage Hawaiian shirt manufacturers prior to investing in an expensive shirt.
- Made in Hawaii
- Paradise Hawaii
- Paradise Sportswear
- Polynesian Sportswear
- Ross Sutherland
- Royal Hawaiian
- Royal Palm
- Silver of Hawaii
- Surfriders Sportswear
- Waikiki Sports
List of Authentic Vintage Hawaiian Shirt Manufacturers
- Alii Lole
- Diamondhead SW
- Duke Kahanamoku
- Hale Hawaii
- Hawaiian Surf
- Liberty House
- Made in California
A Piece of Hawaiian History
How to Care for a Hawaiian Shirt
Vintage Hawaiian shirts must never be machine washed or dried. Dry clean vintage shirts, or wash them by hand with a gentle detergent. Vintage Hawaiian shirts must always be air dried on a hanger, preferably out of direct sunlight.
Shirts made out of rayon are particularly fragile when wet: rayon has a known tendency to tear easily when the fabric is wet. Never try to wring out a wet rayon shirt - hang it on a plastic hanger and allow it to dry.
Always unbutton vintage Hawaiian shirts prior to washing, and never wring the garment. Use padded hangars when setting the shirts out to dry. Do not use wire coat hangers, because they may leave rust spots on the garment!
Store Vintage Hawaiian Shirts with Silica Gel
How to Store a Vintage Hawaiian Shirt
Three methods are available for storing vintage Hawaiian shirts.
- Wrap the shirt in acid-free paper and store in a box in a cool, dry place. This method is only acceptable if the shirt is in an environment with low humidity.
- In arid areas, store the shirt in a dark, dry closet on a padded hangar. If the environment has any humidity or light, do not store the shirt in this manner.
- Wrap the shirt in acid-free paper and store in a vacuum sealed bag, with silica gel packets for extra security against moisture. This is the only acceptable storage method in humid environments.
Remember, the worst enemies of a vintage Hawaiian shirt are light and moisture. Protect this piece of island history from both elements, and the Hawaiian shirt will remain in its original glory.
Authentic Hawaiian Shirts
Where to Find Vintage Hawaiian Shirts
Authentic vintage Hawaiian shirts may be found on the islands of Hawaii and by stores and collectors throughout the United States. For tourists visiting the islands, this is a wonderful opportunity to bring home a unique and valuable souvenir. The advent of online shopping makes purchasing an authentic vintage Hawaiian shirt possible for anyone on the planet.
The Hana Shirt Company is a well respected seller of vintage Hawaiian shirts. Located in Tucson, Arizona, the company has sold shirts to Jimmy Buffet and Barrack Obama.
Vintage Aloha Shirts is located in Hawaii, and offers vintage Hawaiian shirts from each decade of the vintage era.
Take care when purchasing vintage Hawaiian shirts from eBay or other unknown online sellers: it is difficult to examine the shirt and determine authenticity from online photographs.