Of main categories of Hawaiian shirts, the "Engineered" shirts are generally the most sophisticated and certainly the most rare type of shirt. What makes them so special? Quite simply, the design. Most shirts have small randomly repeating design elements all over the shirt. Those are the simplest to make. The next step up are the "Border print" or "Bottom design" shirts that typically have an 10-12 inch design creating a "picture" on the front (sometimes referred to as "picture shirts"). And finally we have the "Engineered" shirts which have a large 15-18 inch design that spans across the entire front of the shirt. This means that the roll of fabric must be cut in precisely the right place at the right angle so that each shirt component is cut so that when it is all sewn together, you get a seamless image on the front. The added time and skill required to make engineered shirts are what make them the most expensive shirts. Therefore most manufactures don't make nearly as many of these types of shirts as the much more common all-over and border print shirts. Many view it as a higher risk investment. We have certainly noticed a decrease in the number of engineered designs by different manufacturers over the years.
If you look at the Arizona Memorial shirt above you will see that not only does the memorial appear to be a single image in the center of the shirt, you probably also can barely make out the pocket. That's because the pocket material exactly matches the background on which it is sewn. None of this is by accident and these features are purposely designed into the manufacturing of the shirt. The vintage surfer shirt on the right also shares the same qualities. It is the wide 15 to 18 inch design that allows the front of the shirt to have a single large image with no repeating elements. In a later post, we will compare a border print shirt and an engineered shirt to see the subtle difference between the two.
And in case you were wondering, both of these shirts (as are most engineered shirts) are designed to be worn untucked. Tucking in such a shirt would cover a good portion of the design and would be like covering up the bottom of a painting. So if you're wearing a finely crafted engineered Hawaiian shirt, go ahead and wear it with pride and show off the design!
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