In the Hawaiian barkcloth was a popular material in the U.S. and Hawaii, used for making draperies, bedding, and pillow covers. For hundreds of years before, the Native islanders, had been processing the bark from indigenous trees, to make the material for clothing.
Hawaiian barkcloth, lava cloth, or cotton dobby, is a little bit thicker than, regular poplin cotton, and also has a slightly rough texture. Depending upon the location in the Pacific, methods of making barkcloth varied, but, had the same basic foundation.
In Hawaii, they used inner bark from the mulberry tree. Once the inner bark was separate, the process would vary a little bit, depending upon location in the South Pacific. Other members of the moraceae family (same family as the mulberry tree) were used in different locations throughout the Pacific.
How the Hawaiians and Polynesians processed the bark, was a little bit different, in order to compliment the structure of the different barks. Using different amounts of water at different stages in the bark pounding, was one way they worked with different types of bark. Sometimes, it was left to soak, or even ferment, because it would help break down the thick fibers.
In the Pacific, these strips of barkcloth were called tapa, and kapa, in Hawaii. In the 1950’s and 60’s, when barkcloth was at it’s height in popularity, hawaiian shirts near me designers eventually started buying kapa from these fabric companies to make shirts. Likewise, fabric companies started taking their leftover fabric designs, and, you guessed it, started making Hawaiian shirts, too.
Some of the more collectible vintage Hawaiian shirts were made in small production by some of these small fabric companies.
Vintage Hawaiian barkcloth shirts from the pre 70’s are collectible because they’re made of the traditional material that was used throughout the Pacific islands, for hundreds of years. Superior materials have also replaced barkcloth for clothing, so, a Hawaiian shirt made of barkcloth, helps put a time-frame on when the shirt was made, and validate the age.
To see several examples of vintage Hawaiian shirts made of barkcloth, please visit my website, [http://www.CollectibleHawaiianShirts.com]. There’s also more educational articles about the history of Hawaiian shirts, and, you can also visit my PayPal certified store, full of rare and funky, vintage Hawaiian shirts.