• Do Hawaiian Shirts Have To Be Floral?

Do Hawaiian Shirts Have To Be Floral?

Last update: 2024-05-05

Hawaiian shirts, sometimes called aloha shirts, are known for their bright, splashy floral prints. The vibrant patterns and colors are part of what makes them so iconic. However, Hawaiian shirts don't always have to feature tropical flowers or leaves to still embody the island style.

While floral prints are common on Hawaiian shirts, they aren't required to fit the style. Hawaiian or aloha shirts can feature all kinds of prints and patterns beyond tropical flowers. Some examples of non-floral Hawaiian shirt prints include:

  • Abstract patterns - Swirling shapes and geometric designs in bright colors.
  • Surf motifs - Stylized waves, surfboards, palm trees, etc. Capture the beach vibe.
  • Tiki designs - Polynesian-inspired masks, carvings, and tattoo-style motifs.
  • Solid colors - Blocks of color or color gradients.
  • Novelty prints - Fun themes like pineapples, cocktails, sailboats.
  • Traditional Hawaiian imagery - Petroglyph designs, island maps, etc.

The key attributes of a Hawaiian shirt are much more about the casual, relaxed aesthetic than the specific print. As long as the shirt has a camp collar, loose fit, and uses bold, colorful patterns, the motif itself doesn't have to be floral. The aloha spirit is about expressing freedom, creativity, and the easygoing Hawaiian culture.

Why Are Floral Prints So Common on Hawaiian Shirts?

Even though they don't have to be floral, most Hawaiian shirts do feature tropical flower prints. There are a few reasons this style became so prevalent:

A handsome male model posing in Summer shirt outdoor against a blue sky. He wears a white Fedora hat.

Hawaii's natural beauty - Flowers like plumeria, orchids, anthurium, and hibiscus grow abundantly in Hawaii. Capturing their vivid colors and forms evokes the lush, vibrant landscape.

1960s surf culture - As Hawaiian shirts became popular with surfers and tourists, brighter and bolder floral prints came into fashion. Brands like Katin and Kahala helped define this look.

Vintage inspiration - Many modern Hawaiian shirt brands take inspiration from vintage mid-century designs that prominently featured floral motifs.

Standing out - The boldness of floral prints allows them to stand out even from a distance, capturing attention in a crowd.

Versatility - Tropical flower prints are eye-catching while still being versatile to combine with shorts, swimsuits, jeans, etc.

Optimistic vibe - Floral prints have a bright, cheerful, optimistic effect. They evoke the warm, sunny Hawaiian climate.

So while florals dominate, they aren't at all required for the Hawaiian shirt aesthetic. It's all about expressing the easygoing island lifestyle.

Examples of Non-Floral Hawaiian Shirts

Some examples of popular non-floral Hawaiian shirts include:

Abstract Pattern Hawaiian Shirts

Man eating ice cream
  • Junk Food Mod Texture Hawaiian Shirt - An abstract, mod-inspired print in retro shades of yellow, orange, blue, and lavender. Captures the 1960s vintage vibe.
  • KUHL Kopiko Palms Hawaiian Shirt - Features abstract palm fronds in black and shades of blue, for a subtle tropical look.
  • TOMMY BAHAMA Pineapple Abstract Floral Silk Hawaiian Shirt - A geometric pineapple print with circles, triangles, lines in upbeat hues.

Surf Motif Hawaiian Shirts

  • TOMMY BAHAMA Surf’s Up Hawaiian Shirt - Surfboard and wave silhouettes in ocean blue colors.
  • KUHL Surf Break Hawaiian Shirt - Graphic print of sunset-hued surfboards.
  • REYNO SPOONER Duke Kahanamoku Hawaiian Shirt - Tropical fish surrounding surfing imagery, honoring the Olympic swimmer who popularized surfing.

Tiki Pattern Hawaiian Shirts

  • KUHL Tiki Time Aloha Shirt - Black shirt with tiki carvings and masks in shades of brown.
  • TOMMY BAHAMA Tiki Toss Hawaiian Shirt - Scattered tiki heads and hibiscus flowers in colorful tiki-bar inspired colors.
  • REYNO SPOONER Tiki Lightning Hawaiian Shirt - Tiki mask motifs, some with rastafarian-inspired colors.

Novelty Theme Hawaiian Shirts

Do Hawaiian Shirts Have To Be Floral?
  • TOMMY BAHAMA Pineapple Express Hawaiian Shirt - Field of pineapples print, capturing an island favorite fruit.
  • TOMMY BAHAMA Thirsty Parrot Hawaiian Shirt - Parrots perched on tropical cocktails.
  • REYNO SPOONER Sailor Jerry Hawaiian Shirt - Tattoo-inspired compass and sailboat motifs.

As you can see, the Hawaiian shirt style allows for boundless creativity when it comes to patterns and motifs. The key is maintaining the casual, tropical vibe.


While floral prints do dominate the Hawaiian shirt scene, they aren't required to capture the relaxed, island-inspired aesthetic. From abstract designs to surf motifs to tiki elements, Hawaiian shirts can feature all types of vibrant, aloha-spirited prints. As long as the colorful patterns and camp collar polo cut evoke the breezy Hawaiian lifestyle, the motif itself doesn't have to be flowers. The Hawaiian shirt is about donning the sunshine-filled Hawaiian attitude, whatever form it takes.

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