While yuppies raced up Wall Street in designer sneakers and powersuits, the surfing subculture glorified the relaxed nature of fun in the sun. Panama Jack had been making sun-care products for their native Florida since 1974, and when surfwear rode in on a wave of success in the 80’s, anything associated with the laid-back lifestyle became an instant hit.
Panama Jack suntan lotions and sunscreens were widely popular with the vacationing crowd to Florida beaches, so the company decided to market paradise in a bottle, bringing Panama Jack to cities across the country. The love of Panama Jack led to the popular name’s appearance on t-shirts, which became a favorite fashion for both tourists and surf-culture fanatics. Panama ‘Jack’ became the monocled and mustached man in the midst of tropical paradise. The dapper fellow in white suit and sun hat settled on t-shirts of the young and old, and before long, Panama Jack became a household name.
Straw hats with Hawaiian printed bands became the rage both on the beach and off, and as they were sold by Panama Jack stores, they became known as the Panama Jack hat. The hat featured a fedora-style shape made in loosely woven straw for comfort and breathability. The perfect sun hat, it promised style and shade when cancer was still a silent threat in the horizon.
Though the surfwear craze settled down after its 80’s heyday, Panama Jack products are still available at resort shops worldwide.