The history of the Hawaiian Grass Skirt

It may surprise you to know that the Hawaiian Grass skirt does not originate from Hawaii. Instead, the skirts were introduced by immigrants from the Gilbert Islands around the 1870s and 1880s, but nevertheless the skirt has become emblematic of Hawaii and its culture. The Hawaiian Grass Skirt is always a popular fancy dress option, and has been for many decades!

It is believed that Hawaiian Hula dancers first started to wear the skirt for performances on America’s mainland during the Vaudeville circuit at the turn of the century. The skirts were practical to carry from place to place as they were dried grass and would last for long periods of time. Hawaiians would traditionally wear skirts made from fresh ti leaves, however they cannot be found on the mainland.

The Hawaiian Grass Skirt became even more recognisable in the 20th Century. During World War II, grass skirts were highly sought after souvenirs by servicemen abroad. The war also contributed to a national interest in Hawaiian food and decor, particularly within California. This was further spurred on by Hawaii’s statehood in 1959, as well as films being produced like Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii. 

Maybe think about a Hawaiian Grass Skirt the next time you’re invited to a fancy dress party…