The Shirt Story

Classic Hawaiian Print Shirts

The Aloha Shirt — A Colorful History

No other style of clothing in the past 75 years has captured a lifestyle as quintessentially Hawaiian as the aloha shirt. Popular throughout the world, this unique shirt has become a fashion icon for Hawai‘i, the South Pacific or any island life in the tropics.

‘A ‘ohe loa i ka hana a ke aloha
Distance is ignored by Love.
— Mary Kawena Pukui

Island Origins

The roots of the aloha shirt can be traced back to a colorful garment called the “Thousand Mile Shirt” which was worn outside the trousers by missionaries and 19th century explorers of Hawai‘i. The true popularity of the aloha shirt can be dated from July 1936, when shirt-maker Ellery J. Chun trademarked the “Aloha Shirt” and began selling them off the rack in his King-Smith Clothiers shop in Honolulu. Bearing original art and bold prints imported from Japan, the vivid rayon shirts became popular items for both locals and for discriminating visitors.

“Throughout his life, Duke Kahanamoku embodied
the welcoming aloha culture which still manages
to define the Hawaiian Islands.”
— Recollections of Waikiki Beachboys

The Golden Age of the Aloha Shirt

The period from the 1930s through the early 50s is often described as the Golden Age of the aloha shirt. Originally tailor-made, the popularity of the shirt launched the growth of Hawaii’s garment industry. Single handedly, the aloha shirt put Hawai‘i on the map.

Famous Fans

From movie stars to presidents, celebrity sightings only added to the allure of Hawai‘i. Montgomery Clift in the film classic From Here to Eternity… Elvis in Blue Hawaii. President Harry Truman on the cover of Life magazine… George H.W. Bush sported an original Newt aloha shirt, and Barak Obama doubtless had a closet full of aloha shirts during his years growing up in Hawai‘i.

“Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace.”
— Author, Paul Thoreax

Continuing The Tradition

Among the few companies that have remained true to the original aloha shirt is Newt at the Royal. In pattern and cut, our Hawaiian shirts are true offspring from the age of Chun’s originals. The exclusive patterns have been adapted by our workshop from the most popular traditional designs of the 1940s and 1950s. While paying homage to the past, Newt’s own contemporary palette complements both shorts and trousers of neutral tones.

Sewing In Quality

Each Newt aloha shirt receives special attention to detail from the beginning. Made with the finest 100 percent long-staple cotton, bark cloth or cotton lawn, Newt’s fabrics are luxurious in texture and yet able to “breathe” in the warm tropical climate. All material is fabric-washed before cutting and sewing to eliminate shrinkage and seam puckering.

Construction details are also critical with all double seams throughout the garment. The front panels and pockets are matched to the pattern. Sewn in lining and full functional vents ensure comfort and fit. And real coconut, mother of pearl or bamboo buttons complete each shirt, with an additional button provided–just in case.

A Modern Classic

Newt at the Royal’s classic aloha shirt celebrates the quality, design and comfort standards established more than 75 years ago. We have preserved a fashion of traditional grace and style. A Newt at the Royal shirt connotes a carefree, devil-may-care lifestyle. It calls to mind soft island breezes, swaying palms and sensuous tropical nights.

Be a part of the Hawaiian story by beginning your own collection of authentic aloha shirts by Newt at the Royal.

Caring For Your Authentic Aloha Shirt

To maintain the color of your Newt at the Royal aloha shirt, always wash your garment in cold water and hang to dry.

November 13, 2017