The Ultimate Guide To Men’s Hawaiian Shirts
These are the labels and designers making the Hawaiian shirt cool again, cementing its rightful place as a summer wardrobe must-own.
It might be a somewhat divisive item, and it won’t be for everyone, but the Hawaiian shirt is nothing short of a summer staple. The style is defined by its loud prints, bright colours and open neck camp collar, which makes it ideal for vacations and summer BBQs alike.
While regular short-sleeve shirts can work as part of relaxed, minimal warm-weather outfits, Hawaiian shirts make more of a statement and often become the focal part of a look. So, if you want to inject some life into your summer fits, the aloha shirt will literally and figuratively have your back.
From purchasing considerations to the coolest Hawaiian shirts brands on the market, here’s everything you need to know.
What is a Hawaiian shirt?
Known as the aloha shirt in its native Hawaii, the Hawaiian shirt is a casual, short-sleeve design that consists of a usually floral print. Made up of any number of colours from pink, red and orange to blues, yellows and greens, it’s a laid-back piece that’s perfect for wearing in summer.
It first gained popularity when worn as part of ‘Aloha Friday’, a weekly occurrence designed to promote the shirt in 1960s Honolulu. The tradition soon caught on, and went on to birth the idea of Casual Friday, which was later adopted in offices across the globe.
Is the Hawaiian shirt directly responsible for the casualisation of menswear and the increasing desire for comfort as much as style? Likely not, but it does say a lot about the relaxed, warm nature of its home country.
Why you should add a Hawaiian shirt to your summer wardrobe
When it comes to summer fashion, not much compares to the Hawaiian shirt. Sure, there are other button ups perfectly appropriate for wearing in warm weather, but nothing quite packs the same punch.
Instantly recognisable due to their loud prints, Hawaiian shirts are statement pieces – you’re not going to be able to slip under the radar when wearing one. But they are a great way of introducing colour and print to typically stripped-back summer attire, bringing and sense of fun and personality to your getups.
Traditional Hawaiian shirts come in boxy fits that sit fairly square on the body. They are also cut slightly wide and cropped, which means they work best when left untucked. You’ll often find the arm holes are cut quite big too, which, along with the open-neck collar, is designed to aid air circulation and keep you comfortable in the heat.
Therefore, when looking to invest in your own, stick true to size and opt for something that fits suitably relaxed. Hawaiian shirts that are cut too slim don’t look quite right, and ruin the idea of something which is ultimately designed to be comfortable and breathable under midday sun.
Pattern and colour
Pattern and colour is integral to the Hawaiian shirt. It’s what the design is all about. If you don’t want something bright, loud and eye-catching, this isn’t the shirt for you.
The kind of patterns you’ll find vary massively. There’s everything from all-over tropical motifs and classic floral designs through to landscape scenes and more abstract shapes, all rendered in bold shades.
You can go as loud as you like, with hues ranging from coral pink and strawberry red through to sunshine yellow and vibrant lime green. Alternatively, if you do want something slightly more subdued, go for a tonal design that incorporates a muted pattern made up of different shades of the same colour.
One of the best things about Hawaiian shirts is the fabric. Traditionally, the style is made from a viscose or polyester blended cotton or tencel, giving them a silky feel that’s very different from cotton or linen.
Go for a traditional Hawaiian shirt then and you’ll have something that’s lightweight and breathable but also silk-like against the skin. They’re incredibly comfortable and have a slight sheen about them, giving them a distinctive texture that’s unique to the style (and your wardrobe).
The coolest men’s Hawaiian shirt brands
One of the original Hawaiian shirt brands, Kahala has been around since 1936 when it was founded in Honolulu. It’s the oldest operating clothing brand in Hawaii and continues to make shirts in much the same way it always has.
That is with heritage inspired prints, soft, silk rayon-based fabrics, and impressive build quality – note the pattern matching on the chest pockets, which always lines up perfectly.
Its take on the Hawaiian shirt is made from a soft Tencel fabric, giving it the soft feel of silk and the breathability of cotton. Featuring landscape- and tropical-themed prints, the open collar offers a classic, mid-century inspired look.
For a more traditional take, try Paradise Found. The brand’s classic designs are all made in Hawaii by skilled artisans who’ve perfected their craft over decades.
The range of prints and colours on offer is vast, going from subdued tonal combinations through to loud and proud palettes, so there’s something for every type of dresser and confidence level.
Fun fact: Tom Selleck wears a red Paradise Found shirt in Magnum, P.I., which is still available today.
Hawaiian Shirt Shop
If you’re looking for the real deal, check out the Hawaiian Shirt Shop. The store does what it says on the tin, offering Honolulu-made, classically-styled shirts in silky rayon fabrics and with vibrant prints.
Its offering is surprisingly affordable and always comes with pattern matched shirt pockets, hinting at the craftsmanship at play.
AllSaints has turned its hand to the Hawaiian shirt every summer for many years now, perfecting a grungy take on the loose, relaxed feel of the classic style.
Expect eccentric animal and floral prints, as well a slightly more muted shades (rather than primary colours) and soft viscose fabrics.
P&Co’s relaxed, workwear-inspired garb perfectly suits the Hawaiian shirt, so it’s no wonder the brand produces some of the finest examples out there.
Made from soft, natural lyocell fabrics, with comfortable boxy fits and screen-printed patterns, they’re among the most wearable Hawaiian shirts around.
With bold cuts and innovative fabric choices, Maharishi has long been amongst the most coveted of all the London-based streetwear brands.
Its Hawaiian shirts draw inspiration from both Hawaii and Japanese culture, with daring patterns and relaxed, boxy cuts taking centre stage.
Polo Ralph Lauren
Naturally, the Hawaiian shirt has played a major part in America’s history, so it was only a matter of time before it would creep into Ralph Lauren’s collections.
Indeed, the US brand has long coveted the style, and regularly produces them as part of its Polo spring/summer collections.
Look out for classic, traditional-inspired prints, including floral and fruit designs, expert pattern matching on the sleeves and pocket, as well as the brand’s signature Polo logo on the chest.
Rag and Bone
Rag and Bone has been around for over 20 years now, thanks to its focus on minimalist wardrobe staples that draw from a rich heritage of New York and British style.
The brand’s relaxed approach to design works well when it comes to Hawaiian shirts, which it offers as part of its spring/summer range every year.
If you want a more subtle approach to the Hawaiian shirt, this could be the brand for you, with most of its designs rendered in extremely wearable shades of navy, black and bottle green. All of which will slot seamlessly into your summer rotation.
Pendleton’s workwear staples have long satisfied fans of classic, utilitarian clothing. Known for its woollen overshirts, the brand applies its fastidious attention to detail to Hawaiian shirts every summer.
Expect unique fabrics sourced from its trusted mills, as well as impressive construction, pattern matching and comfortably relaxed fits.
For a more abstract take on the Hawaiian shirt, turn to Sir Plus. The British brand regularly collaborates with Liberty Fabrics to produce a range of vibrant short-sleeve summer shirts that take inspiration from classic Aloha shirts.
The brand’s build quality is among the best you’ll find, with distinctive spread collars, chest pockets and boxy cuts ensuring they feel as good as they look.
Portuguese Flannel’s shirts offer exceptional value for money, with expertly-sourced fabrics and subtle design touches ensuring they stand out from the crowd.
With its Hawaiian-inspired shirts the brand tends to go all out, with daring patterns and eccentric colour choices making them excellent statement picks.
It favours classic cotton over nylon blends, giving them a less silky but no less soft feel against the skin.
If you’re looking for easy-to-wear, utilitarian-designed shirts, Dickies is for you. While best known for its classic skatewear, the Texas-based brand isn’t shy of bolder, louder designs.
Its warm-weather range regularly features a selection of Hawaiian shirts, all made from viscose blends and coming with bold all-over prints and relaxed camp collars.
Superdry has upped its game with its shirt collection recently, which incorporates classic OCBDs as well as summer-ready Hawaiian-inspired designs.
The latter come in lose, boxy fits and feature bold screen prints for a statement look that can’t fail to get you noticed.
When it comes to Hawaiian shirts, few are as highly sought after as those that were made under Duke Kahanamoku’s name in the mid century.
These highly collectible pieces are incredibly rare today, but the company recently started up production again, ensuring a new generation of Hawaiian shirt fans can enjoy the brand’s distinct designs.
Today you will find superb replicas of those 1950s originals, rendered in high-quality rayon fabrics and featuring classic, boxy fits.
If you want the best example of something, whether it be selvedge denim or beer, turn to the Japanese. Every Sun Surf Hawaiian shirt is made in Japan to the highest of specifications, and each one is cut from soft, breathable rayon.
Referencing classic Aloha shirt designs, vibrant colours and bold patterns are commonplace, and draw from the state’s heritage of producing some of the most playful, summery shirts in existence.