How To Find Vintage Hawaiian Fabric

How to find vintage Hawaiian fabric is not an easy task in the continental United States, but it is worth the search to find these beautiful long-lasting fabrics.  Vintage can go back as far as the 1920's, and some fabrics are durable enough to have survived all these  years. 

  1. The easiest way is to search online for shops in Hawaii who specialize not only in modern tropical Hawaiian shirts, dresses and other clothing including white wedding outfits for both women and men, but also in vintage fabric. Some of the fabric and clothing shops in Hawaii go back many generations and have supported the families through their popularity which continues through the present day. After generations, the current owners of such shops find it exciting (and profitable!) to go into long-neglected inventory and find vintage fabrics that may be collector's items. They are happy to list these fabrics for sale for those who are looking for them.
  2. Perhaps you can find the sources that purchase vintage Hawaiian fabrics to dress movie stars in the different types of advertising that you see in magazines, hotels and lobbies, and even in the fashion runways.
  3. If you purchase a piece of vintage fabric with the original hangtag attached, that is an exceptional collection item. It is most likely from the 1950's or 1960's.   
  4. Look in the Yellow Pages for "vintage stores." Call and see if they, perhaps, have any vintage Hawaiian fabric or clothing. Even though Hawaiian shirts were originally worn only on occasion or on casual days, nowadays the shirts and dresses, especially those made of vintage fabrics, are popular not only for weddings (including bridesmaids) but also for luaus, parties and any casual or informal events.
  5. Also check the Yellow Pages for "seamstresses." Some of them have been in business for many years and may have some vintage Hawaiian fabric sitting on their shelves.
  6. When searching inventories online, look for bark cloth, which is a retro fabric. A nubby type of weave with twisted threads, bark cloth was an upholstery fabric often seen on rattan furniture in the 1940's and 1950's. It is also used for upholstering other furniture and for drapes and bedspread. Bark crepe fabric is woven with untwisted threads and is smoother. Non-upholstery bark cloth is a cotton weave that feels like a soft linen and is perfect for curtains. Another good find is hemp, which is a tough fabric. It can outlast cotton 20 times  No bleach is to be used to wash hemp, but any good detergent is okay.  Hemp can be ironed and does not easily scorch. It handles perspiration well and is not scratchy to wear.  

As you search for hand-tailored vintage shirts, see if they are adorned with such  exciting features as genuine coconut shell buttons! Synthetic fabrics (manufactured fibers) have taken over since 1960, so natural fabrics are to be treasured  It is worth the search to look for, purchase and enjoy  vintage Hawaiian fabrics in any form.

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