Hawaiian shirts under the spotlight of rubbish theory


Question: Are Hawaiian shirts ‘rubbish’? For answers, see: ‘From Kitsch to Chic: The Transformation of Hawaiian Shirt Aesthetics’ Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 2003 21: 75. In which professor Marcia A. Morgado (Apparel Product Design & Merchandising, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Hawai‘i) explains :

“An analysis of the transformation of the shirt – from tourist kitsch to highly valued collectible, and from collectible to global fashion – is framed on rubbish theory. The transformation is traced to an assortment of myths that reconstitute the souvenir commodity as an indigenous ethnic art form and a scarce relic of Hawai‘i’s romanticized past and to a surfeit of publications that position the shirt as a collector’s item. The merits of rubbish theory as a framework for the analysis are assessed, and apparel scholars are asked to consider the influence of myth and scholarship on changes in the aesthetic codes of other fashion and appearance-related commodities.”

The professor has recently extended the investigations into Hawaiian Shirts with a paper co-authored by colleague professor Andrew Reilly entitled:  ‘Funny Kine Clothes: The Hawaiian Shirt as Popular Culture’

(in: Paideusis – Journal for Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Studies: Volume 6 – 2012)

“In the land of aloha, funny kine clothes is a pidgin expression that refers to a peculiar form of dress. The Hawaiian shirt is funny kine clothes.“

Note: the scholarly journal Paideusis (Saint Mary’s University, Canada) should not be confused with the scholarly journal Paideusis (Simon Fraser University, Canada)

Further reading:  Michael Thompson’s original groundwork on Rubbish Theory