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Last week I poked around a textile show here in New York and was a bit surprised to see how many Hawaiian prints were showcased. I suppose if ever there was a time to go ahead and break out the giant florals, it’s summer.

Seeing how textiles are another barometer for what we can expect in the realms of fashion, home and accessories, it looks as though we’re poised for yet another Hawaiian print revival. What do you think about these prints? Are they outdated or on trend? Do you plan to use Hawaiian prints for any of your sewing projects this summer?


When I think of Hawaiian prints I generally picture them on grandfathers, tourists and caricatures of Hunter S. Thompson. However, I vividly remember loving the blue and white Hawaiian print bikini I bought myself the summer of my 16th birthday and still gravitate toward various oversized hibiscus and fern prints on swimwear and swim accessories.

For Spring, Galliano showed a few modern interpretations of Hawaiian prints on the runways at Dior, while Consuelo Castiglioni added a sort of acid trip/pop-art element to the prints at Marni.

(John Galliano for Christian Dior)


On-the-wagon/off-the-wagon songstress Amy Winehouse recently paired up with Fred Perry on a capsule collection that featured her take on modernized Hawaiian prints.


While the print is considered casual and generally appears in the form of funky skirts, summery dresses and beach coverups, do you think you could rock large Hawaiian prints in a more elegant, mature way? How would you utilize these vibrant prints and patterns?


Photos courtesy of, Refinery29, Fred Perry and Google images


  • Missing

    May 30, 2011, 06.02 AMby jebeitz

    I love Hawaiian prints in rayon. Cotton not so much.

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    May 4, 2011, 06.53 PMby thefabledneedle

    Just wanted to let you know that you’ve inspired me to blog about my tropical prints: (Includes a link back here as well!)

    1 Reply
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      May 6, 2011, 10.47 PMby themisslinds

      oh that’s so great – and your dress is gorgeous!

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    Apr 28, 2011, 06.43 AMby monikago

    I second the positive comments about Hawaiian print. They remind me of my last “real” vacation on the Big Island, 8 years ago! I researched Shaheen and got a bit obsessed with acquiring Shaheen vintage dresses on ebay a while ago. What better to enhance one’s mood on a gloomy day than bright colors and beautiful prints. It works for me!

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    Apr 28, 2011, 02.16 AMby JanMadeIt

    I love Hawaiian prints! I have a couple of Hawaiian shirts and clam diggers from the last time they were in style here on the mainland. I would love to put them back into the rotation for any day wear. And to those naysayers who disdain the huge busy bright prints, Hawaiian prints don’t have to be that crazy. The print will never be “calico” but I have a red pareau (sarong/wrap dress) with widely spaced 3-inch clusters I’ve been able to wear a few times even when island prints aren’t “in”. I also wish it was OK to wear flowers in my hair every day. I’m an Island girl who happened to be born in Oklahoma.

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    Apr 27, 2011, 11.45 PMby sshaner10

    Never not in a billion years

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    Apr 27, 2011, 06.28 PMby carbonnation

    I would just like to say that I am (at this very instant!) wearing a black A-line dress with “oversized hibiscus and fern prints.” This dress was the best $1.50 I have ever spent. I have some similar fabric in the closet that is a golden yellow background with brightly colored passion flowers and the like. I have no qualms with Hawaiian prints, as long as they aren’t formed into granny shorts or the standard button up tourist shirt.

    I would also like to add (after reading some of the comments) that nothing is ever “outdated.” All modern fashions make their comeback. I seem to recall seeing plenty of Buddy Holly style outfits on the boys in the past four or five years. Would you call horned rimmed spectacles “outdated”?

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    Apr 27, 2011, 09.57 AMby fuzzyg

    Yumm!! I have a couple of these prints still,and will make them up instantly. And I’ll wear my current housedress out :-). Love everything Hawaiian..

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    Apr 27, 2011, 07.52 AMby Lasious-gw72

    Yes I will. I love colorfull clothing. And since Im black, i love the colorfull hawain prints because the match with my skin soo well. I wonder if I can find some hawaian prints around where i live…

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    Apr 27, 2011, 03.34 AMby sammi357

    Shaheen is an icon. Hawaiian fabrics are to die for when they’re gorgeous like the ones above, the exception being the Marni selection..those are ghastly. They look like an attempt to use drapery fabrics for garments. This Montanan adores Hawaiian prints, and would wear them daily if only the weather would allow. I don’t care if there aren’t any beaches around here, I’ll be on the patio with my husband, in our Hawaiian fabric togs, having a beverage, enjoying what little warm weather we have. (He chimes in that nothing is as comfortable in the summer heat as his Hawaiian shirts. My obsession with these prints has certainly affected his closet, too!) So, bright florals or soft leaves, surfboards and Woodies, Bring on the Hawaiian prints! I’ll even take pink flamingos and bright fruit prints! Oh, and for the dress to die for, anything from Whirlingturban, or the orange Dior above, please!

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    Apr 26, 2011, 09.25 PMby picknstitch

    I have few small pieces of Hawaiian prints I bought during my last visit to the islands. I’ve planned to use them in tote bags (love the duffle pictured above). I’d also re-upholster one of my chairs in a subdued 50’s barkcloth if I could find the right fabric.

    But living in land-locked Colorado, I’m not brave enough to wear them in public, however the oversized shirt dress above is tempting!

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    Apr 26, 2011, 08.48 PMby jadedseas

    I don’t think I would bother sewing anything with Hawaiian prints, but I love the 2 jumpsuits and the blue shorts shown near the bottom of the list. I would wear those in summer for sure!

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    Apr 26, 2011, 08.21 PMby sachoirgirl

    I love wearing really bright hawaiian prints on sun dresses, or in two-tone combinations (like that stunning orange dress) or with dark backgrounds for evening dresses. I also really like using bright fabrics like this as a lining for dark-colour bags or jackets, or in mostly hidden panels in denim or dark-coloured skirts. The little flashes of bright colour can be so exciting.

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    Apr 26, 2011, 08.15 PMby PlainFlawa

    Of course in the South Pacific, Hawaiian Print or Bula wear or Island wear is most welcome. I live in the South Pacific where the sun is bright and wearing these prints are just part of life here. Our fashion stylists come up with the most awesome pieces that match the body types of the islanders – they are awesome. Anywhere outside the tropics, I’d rather not wear these prints. The prints match the tropical weather.

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    Apr 26, 2011, 07.14 PMby pineappledinosaur

    i love the old hawiian postcards:) i dont know if i would wear them. maybe i would try that long sleeved blouse. the prints nowadays seem so tacky and not in a good way. some of the pics on here i just adore but in my opinion, any bright popping fabric should be used sparingly. thanks for the post!

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    Apr 26, 2011, 07.10 PMby loulourosa

    I love the way these prints are used by Marni, contemporary and fresh!

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    Apr 26, 2011, 07.01 PMby bluginhm

    I love the Hawaiian prints, but I tend to like the older ones better. Some of the new ones are great, but others are the ones I’d call tacky. The old patterns and colors are so delightful!

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    Apr 26, 2011, 05.52 PMby thefabledneedle

    I love Hawaiian prints; I don’t care if they are often perceived as dated or tacky! I like that retro look and dress like a grandma half the time anyway. The last time I was in Hawaii I bought fabric and some rayon dresses in Hawaiian prints. I find those bright colors and large prints uplifting and fun.

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    Apr 22, 2011, 06.56 PMby Natasha Venzke

    I was going to say it’s outdated, but then I saw the photos and I love that orange dress.

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    Apr 22, 2011, 06.37 PMby shelley .

    I think that a little Coctail dress would look really cute with it :)

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    Apr 22, 2011, 06.34 PMby aleah

    I think Hawaiian prints are overkill when used to create something huge… I really dislike it as long dresses, shirts or blouses, but I do like it when used for short shorts or short skirts. But most of the times it just ruins and outfit. It’s too much, it looks outdated, horrible. There are just those rare cases when I like it, but when I like it, I love it.

    2 Replies
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      Apr 22, 2011, 06.36 PMby shelley .

      Yeah, long dresses or not meant for this prints.

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      Apr 26, 2011, 08.17 PMby PlainFlawa

      Long dresses in these prints are lovely. Wear them at a resort in the tropics and you blend it right away.

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    Apr 22, 2011, 11.17 AMby happytomodachi

    the hawaiian print fabric i see outside of hawaii usually make me cringe…or the way the fabric is used makes me cringe. knowing how to use it is key. there are beautiful prints by amazing artists/designers in hawaii that go very well with island wear. sometimes the island wear can be more formal as well. but i guess maybe it’s something that is very hawaii specific. personally i love the prints that i find in hawaii.

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      Apr 26, 2011, 08.18 PMby PlainFlawa

      I love the prints from Hawaii and designs from other South Pacific countries. Samoa has some beautiful bright colours that go well with the tropics.

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    Apr 22, 2011, 12.51 AMby cooi

    Depends on how edgy the garment is…

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    Apr 21, 2011, 06.10 PMby thesnakeships

    I adore Hawaiian prints, and have a pattern all picked out for a dress this summer, but I have had the HARDEST time finding the right fabric :(

    I guess if it’s “trendy” that will change shortly?

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      Apr 21, 2011, 06.38 PMby themisslinds

      Judging by the amount I saw at the textile show I would say get ready to start seeing them everywhere

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    Apr 21, 2011, 04.49 PMby corawoodward

    I generally do not like hawaiin prints at all, but recently I wanted to make a dress, and the only fabric I had in big quantities was this bright blue, pink, and yellow hawaiin inspired print (with a volcano too…). I started using it to make a test-dress to see if I liked this certain pattern, and I wasn’t really going to wear it. Now that I see this, I may be rethinking wearing it! I could wear it on the beach I guess…

    1 Reply
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      Apr 21, 2011, 05.06 PMby themisslinds

      It would be fun for a casual party too!

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