tombolo hawaiian shirts

Tombolo’s Hawaiian Shirts Are All You Need for Summer

Fashion editors can’t get enough of them.

By: Noah Lehava

You can equate it to the hunt for a perfect white tee or a pair of denim that actually fitsfinding a modern Hawaiian shirt that’s just right is like finding a sartorial unicorn. Luckily, Mike Sard and Chris Galasso, two friends who’ve known each other since they were six, quit their jobs in political risk assessment and prediction, and crisis public relations, respectively—talk about a career 180—to reimagine the tropical vacation shirt and launch their brand, Tombolo. “The two of us have always been obsessed with the Hawaiian shirt. It was Chris’ go-to uniform for middle school dances!” Sard says of why they decided to pivot into fashion. As for the reason they chose the Hawaiian shirt as the product to launch, Galasso explains, “When we looked at the history of the shirt, we realized it had an amazing confluence of influences: Japanese tailoring, traditional Polynesian motifs, California casual wear, even the art of Gauguin! Above all, though, the Hawaiian shirt was the ultimate canvas for creativity, particularly in the ’40s and ’50s. The true purpose was to push the envelope and serve as wearable self-expression.”

Tombolo’s designs have found the perfect median between whimsy, vintage, cool, and modern—no easy feat when you think of honoring such iconic garb. Sard and Galasso tapped illustrators to help them capture that sipping-out-of-a-coconut-under-a-palm-tree vibe. “We basically impart the essence of what Tombolo stands for and then let artists run wild within some very loose parameters. Once we get the art, we transform it into a repeating pattern and configure it into a shirt. This more open-ended process has been really fulfilling, and it’s led to fun collaborations with wonderful young artists like Amber Vittoria and Ana Leovy,” Galasso explains. As for what’s next for the brand? “We’ve got a store opening in Nolita, which will be a great way to meet some of our customers and also test out some wild product ideas with limited drops. We’re excited about that. And we’ve been experimenting with embroidered terry cloth cabana shirts, which people are responding well to—we’re excited to roll out more of those designs.”

Photo: Courtesy of Tombolo

Photo: Courtesy of Tombolo

Photo: Courtesy of Tombolo

Photo: Courtesy of Tombolo

Photo: Courtesy of Tombolo

Photo: Courtesy of Tombolo

Photo: Courtesy of Tombolo

Photo: Courtesy of Tombolo

Photo: Courtesy of Tombolo

Photo: Courtesy of Tombolo

Photo: Courtesy of Tombolo

Photo: Courtesy of Tombolo

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