50’s Tiki Culture

What is Tiki?

It is usually assumed that Tiki Culture in mid – century America began post World War 2 after the american soldiers returned home with stories and souveniers from the exotic South Pacific islands. This is somewhat true however tiki culture was firstly introduced back in 1934 when Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt, a man from Louisiana who had sailed the South Pacific, opened a Polynesian themed bar and restaurant called “Don the Beachcomber” in Hollywood. The tropical decor and birth of exotic cocktails such as the Mai Tai, proved hugely popular and resulted in many bars and restaurants “copying” the theme by the late 1950’s.

In addition, post-war America saw the rise of the middle class as an economic force and the affordable luxury of air travel to resorts such as Hawaii, helped generate the nations popularity of all things tropical. Polynesian design began to influence every aspect of the american lifestyle from homeware to clothes, Tiki bars started to pop up in living rooms and many classic 50’s styles we still love today were influenced by Polynesian women.

 The kitsch  trends we relate to as “Tiki” today would no doubt contain, hula girls, palm tree’s, tiki god masks and tropical fabrics (check out Tara Starlet for some great 50’s pieces in authentic Hawaiin prints) Tiki has been injected into  many contemporary styles for the modern day fifties follower, for me personally when I think of Tiki? I feel like whipping on a head scarf listening to some surf rock and doing the Hula!


RR x

It’s Tiki Time!


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