is an old but innovative line of clothing that has been organically dyed in 100% pure red dirt. No harsh chemicals or dyes have been used in our all natural dyeing process. Real Dirt Shirt Hawaii combines unique design concepts & themes with award wining service and wholesale support forming an unbeatable marketing package. Thank you for your interest in Real Dirt Shirt Hawaii. We look forward to serving you soon.
On September 11, 1992, Hurricane Iniki, a category 5 hurricane, made a direct hit on the garden island of Kauai. Located in the lush hills of Kalaheo, behind what is today's Brick Oven Pizza, was a business called Tropical Shirts--a small "mom and pop" silk-screening operation. After Hurricane Iniki hit, the (then) owners assessed the damages. Among the spoils, they found messy cases of blank white t-shirts, partially stained with Kauai's famous red dirt.
Hawaiian Island Kauai's Red Dirt
Kauai is known for its red dirt. This substance is basically rusted volcano rock, turned into dirt over millions of years. Because Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands there is more erosion there and therefore, lots of rusty red dirt. The soil's red color is due to the fact that it contains a large amount of iron oxide.
Kauai locals recall being scolded as children for getting the red dirt on their clothes. Parents knew that once clothing was stained with the local dirt, it was stained for life. They knew of no way to remove the stubborn redness. In fact, the red dirt is well known for its strong staining property and is the reason behind the Hawaiian custom of removing one's shoes when entering a home. Knowing these things, the owners of Tropical Shirts thought the reddened inventory was certainly ruined and a complete loss.
Growing a Business up from Disaster
The owner, not being one to give up easily, wondered how to save his ruined t-shirts and possibly make some money in the process. He was determined to figure out a way to remove Kauai's red dirt from fabric.
However, around that time a friend suggested the owners simply finish the job. His idea: completely dye the shirts with the red dirt and call them Dirt Shirts. The owner, always game for a quirky business idea thought it was brilliant. His partner and wife did not share the same enthusiasm. At first, the story goes, she told him he was crazy.
Inventing Dirt Shirts and Dealing with Customer Demand
Nevertheless, both being artists, the mom and pop shop owners soon went to work on creating the first "Dirt Shirt." The first time the red Dirt Shirts were seen was in 1994 at Ho O Lau Lea in Poipu. To the couple's surprise, the Hawaii locals quickly mobbed the sales booth and bought up every single shirt. To keep up with the great demand, the owner had to go back to the shop that night to make more. At first it was local people buying the Dirt Shirts. Later, tourists began buying the shirts as Hawaiian vacation souvenirs to bring home.
Real Dirt Shirts - The Business Today
The Real Dirt Shirts line of clothing is organically dyed in 100% pure red dirt. The company uses no harsh chemicals or dyes and an all natural dyeing process. After one wash alone, the t-shirts may be washed with like colors.