Paradise Found aloha shirts – The history and my experience

While I’ve got a few Hawaiian shirts in my wardrobe now, one brand currently has the biggest presence.

They’re perhaps the best known brand of aloha shirt, most of the time instantly recognisable without actually being known by name.
They supplied Tom Selleck with his famous aloha shirts on the series Magnum, PI (a series I’ve never hidden my affinity for, having even written an article dissecting the menswear worn on the show).
And while he’s the poster boy for the aloha shirt, the brand’s label was never directly shown on the show.

Magnum PI Paradise Found Jungle Bird Hawaiian Shirt

Instead, the patterns are what lives on in our collective memory.
The best known being the Jungle Bird, the red background with the print of palm leaves and purple parrots.
While technical details such as sizing and fabrics have changed over time, the famous prints have remained.

Paradise Found Jungle Bird Magnum PI Hawaiian Shirt Outfit
An approximation of the classic outfit.

When the Paradise Found shirts first came to international prominence with the success of Magnum, PI in the 1980s, the fabric used for them was rayon.
At some point, the main production fabric was changed to being cotton; it appears to have pivoted between cotton and rayon a few times since.
Brand new ones are currently made in rayon, as of when I last bought one at the end of 2020.

My personal preference is rayon; it’s more breathable than cotton, drapes better, feels better on the skin and its natural creasing is more visually pleasing.
However, rayon isn’t without its cons, as it’s known to be more harmful to produce than cotton fabrics.
As such, I’ve generally tended to purchase vintage rayon shirts rather than supporting the production of new rayon.

Methods of construction and sizing have both changed over time.
The sizing went from loose to oddly slim, and as of now is back to being loose like the oldest one I owned.
Loose to the point that a size L measures (and measured) 51 inches at the chest, resulting in me having mine slimmed to 48.
I’m fine with that – always better to be on the larger side than the smaller one when it comes to alterations.

If buying true to size, the shoulder seams will always be dropped over the natural point, which is good both for a relaxed look and for ease of movement.

My biggest gripe about the newer Paradise Found shirts is the use of thicker interlining in the collar.
The oldest one I own, a beautiful blue with beige palm trees, has a soft collar with minimal interlining.
Second oldest is an iteration of the Star Orchid print, which annoyingly has fusible in the collar.
Worst of all is the brand new Jungle Bird one I recently got, which has thick fusible that forces the collar to sit dead flat rather than letting it shape to the neck of the wearer.
The starched feel doesn’t match the casual vibe of the shirt.
It’s not a deal breaker, but the design was definitely better without all of that interlining.

Paradise Found Jungle Bird Magnum PI Hawaiian Shirt Outfit
The new Jungle Bird. I had this slimmed by 3″ down the sides and hemmed shorter for a better look when worn untucked.

Older Paradise Found models, however, may not have the issue.
For example, my blue palm tree one has a lovely soft collar and sits better against my neck as a result.

Paradise Found Aloha Hawaiian Shirt Style
This was the first Paradise Found shirt I acquired, in 2019.

Onto the good things, the style and feel of these shirts is great.
As I mentioned about rayon fabric earlier, it feels great to wear in the summer months due to its breathability and ease of movement.
Stylistically the prints on these shirts are lovely and quite versatile to wear with a variety of pant colours, or faded old jeans a la Tom.
The wooden buttons used on these shirts are a treat, looking and feeling excellent and doing wonders for the attitude conveyed by them.

I wouldn’t mind a bigger collar, in the vein of the original resort shirts of bygone eras, but it’s not a big issue to me.
They’re still plenty versatile to wear; the collars just look a bit odd if worn in a runaway collar style over a jacket lapel.

Instead, it’s better to wear these shirts with the collar points hidden under the jacket lapels.
It doesn’t give off as much of an aloha vibe, but it does look better.

Paradise Found Star Orchid Aloha Hawaiian Shirt Style Outfit
My Star Orchid shirt is notably tighter than the other two I own, despite being the same tagged size.

To conclude, I have mixed feelings about these shirts.
On one hand, if you’re a Magnum fan and you’re chasing the authenticity of the Paradise Found shirts and the prints in particular, these ones are impossible to beat.
I’m in this category, and I love owning and wearing two of the famous patterns on a regular basis.
However, when it comes to construction, style and cut, I do think there are likely better options out there.
I prefer the stylistic designs of aloha shirts from the likes of Sun Surf Aloha or Drake’s, with larger and more point-esque collars better suited to wearing over the top of a jacket lapel.

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With content features ranging from appearances on popular menswear hubs (The Rake, StyleForum, Put This On) to French perfume newsletters and university course readings, Sam is a writer, designer and enthusiast in the fields of menswear and fragrance.

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