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Surf fashion

Surf culture

Elvis' presence in Hawaiian history also holds fashion significance. Elvis often wore Hawaiian or Aloha shirts (flowered or colourful patterned shirts). For a time, a popular Hawaii fashion designer Reyn Spooner, marketed a line of Elvis Presley clothing, including a reproduction of one of the flowered shirts he wore in a movie and on an album cover.

Note: This article follows on from Surf Movies

The Hawaiian shirt… a fashion tyrant? An iconic masterpiece? An artistic innovation? A tacky souvenir? Something you wish your Dad wouldn't wear?! There is an interesting history behind the Hawaiian shirt…

Basically… a Hawaiian designer designed a shirt that would be more favourable to native Hawaiian's… apposed to the plain shirts the western missionaries provided in order to cover up the naked natives. Bright colours and radiant designs based around things the locals held dear adorned these new shirts, which were named 'Aloha Shirts'. A fashion legend was born! The shirts were an instant hit with local people and surfers. And as tourists, movie stars (Elvis) and celebrities caught on, the craze spread, and the Hawaii craze began! Nowadays these shirts are known as 'Hawaiian shirts'.

Fashion brands have taken a great deal of inspiration from Hawaii and the myth of Aloha. Strong, colourful patterns, and particularly flowers shape the designs on anything from surfboards, t-shirts, shorts (boardies), trainers to advertisements. More recently, current popular trends in graphic design have been integrated into surf fashion, such as experimental typography and illustration. All adding and fuelling the spread of surf fashion and keeping it not only at the beaches, but inland in high fashion stores and inland major cities. Just look at the recent artwork of brands like Quiksilver, and even major high street brands not normally associated with surfing. Even Gucci have released Hawaiian inspired shorts.

A surfer can be easily identified by the way they dress. Over the years surf culture has developed an individual dress code or uniform of it's own. This uniform is usually boardshorts, surf t-shirts (t-shirts with surf designs or motifs on), Hawaiian shirts, jeans and particular brands and styles of shoes, sandals or flip-flops. Although, is it actually a surfer you have identified?!

Clothing that was initially designed to be specifically for surfing, like boardshorts or t-shirts aimed at surfers, have evolved into an essential component of not only the surfer's casual everyday wardrobe but of the wider society as well.

The 'surfer's uniform' has lead to the development of a multi-million dollar surf clothing industry with companies such as O'Neill, Quicksilver, Rip Curl and Billabong leading the way.

The fashion world is always changing, new styles, themes, concepts, inspirations, seasons (etc…). Surf brands constantly adapt to current trends in fashion becoming not only surf brands, but also fashion brands. Huge surf clothing companies like Quiksilver have made surf culture accessible to all areas of society even if they don't surf.

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