Though invented in Honolulu in 1935 for tourists keen to take home postcard-inspired clothes, the Hawaiian shirt is no longer the stuff of souvenirs. It started, as so much does, with Hedi Slimane. Following a move to Los Angeles during his tenure at Saint Laurent, he quickly fell in love with the city's palm trees and SoCal style. His Spring 2016 collection for the French house incorporated both elements, resurrecting the garment once only synonymous with tourists and Tampa Bay retirees. As the style set took to the trend with unprecedented vigour, it was not long until versions of the Aloha shirt sprouting in palm fronds, tropical fruit and flowers and seascapes could be spotted across the collections of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Valentino, Prada and Dries Van Noten, turning the streets outside September's A/W'17 shows into something of a sartorial tropical landscape.
Arguably the Hawaiian shirt's most iconic moment - that of Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film, Romeo & Juliet - is celebrating a 20th anniversary this month in style, on display at New York's Opening Ceremony store. The avant-garde store has championed the trend further, stocking 'pool punk' styles from emerging Australian label Double Rainbouu, founded by ex-Ksubi creatives Mikey Nolan and Toby Jones who built their label on the style as a unisex piece.
"We were drawn to Hawaiian shirts because of their mood-enhancing quality," the duo explained. "There's an instant holiday factor as soon as you put one on. They're one of a few classic pieces that you can have some fun with and go loud." Citing early skate and surf culture in California, Riviera punk and South East Asian jungles as inspiration, the designers driving intent is to deliver fashion that feels good. "For us it's about colour and energy and anything that gives you that escapist feeling."
So how to wear the Hawaiian shirt without looking like something out of an 80s cop show? Keep the rest of your outfit low-fi - wear with classic denim or tailored trousers - and opt for soft fabrics to relax the boxy silhouette of a short-sleeved shirt. Wear open over slip dresses or vintage tees and whatever you do, avoid cargo shorts and sandals (a sockless brogue or moccasin goes a long way).
When asked for why the long lost style is suddenly having such a moment, the Double Rainbouu designers reply, "I think there are just certain times when people need do thave a bit of fun and now is one. Yesterday the guy at 7/11 thought I'd been on holiday, because of the tan and the 'celebration shirt'. They're designed for good times."