Hawaiian Christmas shirts have become a tradition at my house. These Reyn Spooner® "surf style" shirts seem to be the perfect California way to celebrate the holidays - with the Mele Kalikimaka spirit. Reyn Spooner first produced their annual special edition Christmas shirt in 1983. After one of my brothers showed me his 1986 edition, I was hooked.
Kjell, Eric, and Leif Anderson
Of course, having been born on Christmas
Day was probably reason enough to keep buying
them every year. But, these particular shirts
are really durable and good looking, with an annual pattern that is also frequently available in a choice of colors - sometimes red, green,
neutral or blue. In 2006, a black background shirt was produced. And, in 2008, a shirt with a neutral background was available. Depending upon the design, the shirts may be available in as many as five colors (sold initially through reynspooner.com).
Each year brings a different print or pattern, though
the theme is always a bit familiar - blending holiday
motifs with Hawaiian spirit (listen to me,
I sound like an ad). Each shirt has the annual date imprinted somewhere
in the pattern, although in some
cases it can be difficult to find.
With the arrival of eBay, getting replacement shirts in a larger size (I'm not as trim as I used to be) is also becoming a tradition at our house. However, since the Reyn Spooner® website doesn't have fabric samples for previous editions of their Christmas shirts, I decided to create my own little catalog of patterns. I mean, somebody had to do it!
Caveats: The "dated" Mele Kalikimaka Limited Issue shirts are a cotton-poly blend, called Spooner Kloth. However, Reyn Spooner also produces various other Christmas shirts made of rayon or cotton, often labelled Mele Kalikimaka Limited Issue. These shirts are usually not dated, and should not be confused with the annually-issued and dated shirts.
So, if you're looking for the original "dated" Mele Kalikimaka Limited Issue shirts, see the fabric swatches below. The very first issue (some say there was an '82) was the '83 shirt, which is undated. However, each of the following years' shirts are dated. A special thanks to Bob Jarrard for photos of the '84 version, one of the more difficult shirts to locate. (As an addendum, I was fortunate to find both the '84 and '85 shirts on eBay during 2012. So, if you're filling in a collection, there's always hope.)
Reyn also issues Fall/Thanksgiving shirts and Summer/4th of July shirts. These are usually not dated, although there have been some exceptions.
One final note: in January 2008, Reyn's announced that private equity firm Wedbush Capital Partners acquired majority ownership to finance expected growth of stores and merchandising deals outside Hawai'i. Coincidentally or otherwise, this ownership change seemed to hail a noticable change in the holiday shirt design - less of an "island" pattern, and more of a traditional holiday look.
For many years, Reyn Spooner has made shirts commissioned for major universities, in addition to professional sports teams and car enthusiast groups. However, in 2008, Macy's department stores began commissioning Reyn to produce a holiday shirt based on a Macy's design, and only for sale at Macy's Honolulu store in Ala Moana Center. In contrast to the "official" Reyn Spooner Mele Kalikimaka annual shirts, Macy's shirts seemed to retain more of the island design, The 2009 and 2011 Macy's shirts are dated, but the 2008 and 2010 Macy's shirts are undated. Interestingly, the "official" Reyn 2011 shirt bears a striking resemblance to the Macy's 2009 shirt.
The Reyn Spooner name - where'd it come from? In the early 50's, Reyn McCullough, a merchant who owned and operated a successful men's wear store on Catalina Island, saw growth potential in the Hawaiian Islands. Statehood was imminent, and Honolulu was soon to be a short jet ride from the West Coast. So Reyn packed his family and moved to Hawaii. Within a few years, the growth of Reyn's Ala Moana Center in Waikiki, and his other new Hawaii locations, convinced him to sell his Catalina business and concentrate his focus in the Mid-Pacific.
Enter Ruth Spooner who, in 1956 had established Spooners of Waikiki, and, with her one sewing machine operation on Waikiki Beach, was cultivating a reputation for the best 'kine' custom surf trunks in the islands. She made swimwear and shirts that Reyn designed, eventually selling him her business in 1962. Reyn set up four sewing machines in the basement of his Ala Moana store, and merging the two company names, Reyn Spooner® was born.