At Kamehameha Garment Company we are used to the following comment "Your shirts are lovely, but why are they so expensive?" So I thought that I would take some time to explain just why that is.
There are many ways you can make a shirt and many finishing touches that can be, and are, left off in a cheap, mass-produced garment. One of the very first things you will notice about KGC shirts is that the print continually matches across the front of the shirt, not almost, but perfectly after it is buttoned. There is only one way to do this. That is to cut the fronts individually, by hand. Most all garments one buys off the rack are machine-cut in layers of fabric, sometimes 2-300 or more layers high, making the average time to lay and cut a shirt mere minutes. It takes half an hour to cut one KGC shirt to get the fronts to line up perfectly.
The second thing you will notice about a KGC garment is that all the pieces are engineered so that the pattern is both matched and symmetrical. This drives fabric consumption way up. Speaking of fabric consumption, our fabric is the most expensive of its kind, a high-sheen rayon that most closely delivers the "silky" look of yore that the old-time manufacturers strove for. They had used silk itself as the fabric of choice for the shirts until, in 1939, the Japanese invaded China and cut off the silk supply. Into the lurch stepped the Dupont Corporation with their just-invented Rayon fabrication that closely duplicated both the look and feel of the original silk. Rayon had the advantage of having a larger fiber diameter, creating more space between the fibers, thus allowing better air circulation in the garment, and it is a natural, plant-based fiber. This made for a cooler wearing experience and allowed for the wicking away of moisture from perspiration. These properties make for an expensive piece of goods!
In the actual make-up of the garment, we do things that are almost invisible to the wearer, such as take a larger seam allowance in the collar to prevent the fraying that can come with repeated washing. A top-stitch at the perimeter of the collar serves as additional insurance against this. The side seams of the garment are double-needle french seamed for strength as are the joining seams of the sleeve to the garment. Your KGC shirt will not tear at these stress points. We also use four-hole polished coconut buttons, making them half as likely to fall or pull off. In the unlikely event that one does; we sew an extra button inside the lower placket to replace any loss. And, speaking of that placket, if you turn it inside out, you will find that it is lined with interfacing. Tailors do this to ensure a smooth front presentation. So do we. Hardly any other manufacturers do this, because of the extra cost.
In timepieces, you can buy a Timex or a Rolex, in automobiles, the choices run from a Ford Focus to a Lamborghini Aventador. In men's suits, the cost for a good one can run to the multiple $1000's. In Hawaiian shirts, we shoot for that level of excellence and I think the buyer will agree, we hit our mark.
If you truly love classic, timeless Hawaiian shirts…you know and understand! Excellent explanation! Well done! I love your shirts!