When we were first starting Battenwear in Brooklyn in the summer of 2011, you could often find Shinya on the A train with his surfboard, going to Rockaway Beach to clear his head in the water.
It’s a fun ride and not too long from Downtown Brooklyn to Rockaway 90, but it’s also a real juggle getting in and out of the subway stations carrying a surfboard.
And that's how the Five Pocket Island Shirt came into being. Shinya wanted a beach shirt that was loose and cool in the heat and also practical for storage of essentials.
As the Five Pocket Island Shirt was coming together on his sketch pad, Shinya first thought of Hawaiian shirts, and the surf gods like Duke Kahanamoku who wore them.
Shinya then remembered his favorite old guayabera shirt. In college, he had taken a trip to Cuba, and somewhere on the way from Tokyo to Havana, the airline had lost all of his luggage. With virtually nothing to his name, Shinya headed to a shop near his hotel and picked up some supplies, including a guayabera. And once he changed into it, he realized how great the pockets would be for storing his valuables and essentials.
Plus, it looked great, as Papa Hemmingway can attest.
Now he had a shirt with the spirit of an Aloha shirt, the practical coolness of a guayabera, and to finish it off, he added some Brooklyn ingenuity. He thought about the juggle it had been to get in and out of the subway with his surfboard under his arm, taking his metro card out of his wallet, getting his cash out for a coffee at the bodega by the beach.
So, he gave it a pocket the perfect size for a metrocard with a five dollar bill wrapped around it. The other pockets would be for his eyedrops, keys, chapstick, passport, change, pen, notebook, etc.