The Second Hand Hawaiian Shirt - A Story of Multicultural Friendship

Seen by some as a fashion sin, loved by many for the transfer between etiquette (shirt) and casual style (patterns and prints), the second-hand Hawaiian shirt found its way into our hearts and wardrobes as a firm fashion classic.

The shirt finds its pop-cultural origins in the business world and the military. Not necessarily the ambience in which we would locate the ease and lifestyle of Hawaii. The second-hand Hawaiian shirt has broken with this image and achieved much more - more on that later.

But how did the colourful original Hawaiian shirt spread from a Pacific island in the ocean all over the world? As is often the case, the answer is: movies and series! We thought, how many classic films can we think of that contributed to the fame of the colourful shirts?


  1. Tom Selleck as the eponymous TV detective in the series "Magnum" can be seen permanently in the colourful shirts, the so-called Magnum Hawaiian shirts
  2. Blue Hawaii with Elvis Presley playing the ukulele and wearing a Hawaiian shirt, making music for the lady of his heart.
  3. Al Pacino wears a Hawaiian shirt in the gangster classic Scarface.
  4. The montage boys in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet are all wearing Hawaiian shirts.

Back to the Roots - The Evolution of Second Hand Hawaiian Shirts

The history of the Hawaiian shirt goes back to 1840, the year in which the first records of brightly coloured shirts were spotted on the streets of Honolulu, worn exclusively by the male population at the time. Because there was no name for the shirts in the Hawaiian-Polynesian language, the English description of the Hawaiian shirt or even more popular Aloha shirt still applies today.

But why is the Second Hemd Hawaii shirt now also a story of multicultural friendship? In origin, two styles of shirts were worn by native Polynesians and immigrants from the Philippines:

  • barong tagalog (Filipino); called bayan for short.
  • & palaka (Polynesian)

The bayan was best known for its loose fit and could be worn comfortably breezy on warm sultry days. The palaka, on the other hand, was coarsely made and tough, so it was worn as outerwear by plantation workers and originally came from Japan. In Japanese fashion, it was not customary to produce colourful clothing, so it was with these work coats, which were usually dyed blue with indigo. In Hawaii, it has long been considered a kind of national costume and distinguishing feature of ordinary workers, not entirely unlike jeans. Incidentally, the palaka ultimately translates simply as a work coat.

From 1924 onwards, this stigma was gradually discarded because the shirts were worn by dancers and replaced by Samoa'ish patterns. This made the already colourful shirts even more eye-catching. The dancers adapted this style as a kind of uniform and paid the local Musa-Shiya Shoten produce the Hawaiian shirts for all the dancers.

This was the start for an absolute classic and export hit in Hawaii newly produced as Aloha shirt or Hawaiian shirt or even better in the second life cycle as Second shirt Hawaiian shirt. The popular shirt has now been woven in other, more ambitious fabrics - namely yukata, a light cotton fabric originally worn by children in Japan.

Another special feature of the production is the narrow fabric panels - so the shirt had to be sewn together from 10 individual pieces. An original Hawaiian shirt can still be recognised today by this "patchy" way of making. So this product came together from Polynesia, the Philippines, Japan and Samoa. But wait, there is more to tell:

Mainland American tourists in particular visited the fiftieth and youngest state in the USA. Moreover, before the Second World War, the Pacific fleet and thus the Hawaiian naval base was expanded. Thus, the shirt was increasingly worn by sailors and taken with them on home leave. In 1947, Honolulu's civil servants were allowed to wear the Hawaiian shirts in plainer colour variations on duty as well - and get this, they were even allowed to wear them over their trousers.

The story is almost over here. Do you remember the small Musa-Shiya Shoten Ltd textile factory? This later became the first to advertise the original Hawaiian shirt under the name Aloha Shirt - at the then price of 95 US cents.

Machart and cut of second hand Hawaiian shirts


The Second Hand Hawaiian Shirt is ultimately not only sustainable but also diverse! Originating in Hawaii from the influences of the Polynesian inhabitants and lighter shirts from the Philippines, dyed by Japanese weavers and supplemented with patterns from Samoa, it ultimately gained worldwide fame through American pop culture like the Magnum Hawaiian shirt.

To this day, the original Hawaiian shirt or Aloha shirt is worn loose fitting and made of cotton or cotton fabric, it consists of 10 pieces that are sewn together to form a shirt in Hawaii. The Hawaii shirt as a mass product is mostly made of cotton or polyester and is no longer produced in Hawaii itself. Moreover, for reasons of efficiency, it is no longer sewn from 10 individual pieces.

Different styles and types of second hand Hawaiian shirts summarised:

  • Second hand Hawaiian shirts made of cotton
  • Second Hand Hawaiian Shirts made of Yukata
  • Second Hand Hawaiian shirts in plain style (Japanese origin)
  • Second Hand Hawaiian shirts patterned (Samoa'ish origin)

Verschiedene Stile

  • Vintage Hawaiihemden aus Baumwolle
  • Vintage Hawaiihemden aus Yukata
  • Vintage Hawaiihemden im schlichten Stil (japanischer Herkunft)
  • Vintage Hawaiihemden gemustert (Samoa’ische Herkunft)

What are you looking for?

Your cart