In this beautiful little book — illustrated with dozens of shirts — Thomas Steele tells the story of this remarkable art form, details its different varieties, discusses the materials, designers, and manufacturers, and presents the fine points that make a shirt collectible.
Unknown in the Islands until missionaries introduced a drab forerunner to cover "heathen nakedness" — which the irrepressible Hawaiians soon decorated with hand-printed geometric motifs from the traditional tapa cloth — the genuine Hawaiian shirt is now regarded as a work of art and avidly sought out by collectors. When tourism came to Hawaii in the late 1920s, these unusual shirts were among the first things that visitors had to have. Local designers and tailors worked quickly to meet the demand and began to expand the range of decoration to include palm trees and romantic beaches, tropical jungles and volcanoes, exotic flowers and scenes from Polynesian legend. The Hawaiian shirt had been born.