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27 years later, people are still buying the ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ nightshirt at the airport

The romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle came out 27 years ago, on June 25, 1993. But if you were to go to SEA (Seattle-Tacoma International Airport) today, you will still see the Sleepless in Seattle nightshirt. You know the one I’m talking about; the shirt has prime real estate at Hudson stores, right up front near the entrance.

It’s a long, light gray T-shirt, one size fits most, with rolled up baby pink sleeves and “Sleepless in Seattle” written across the front in cursive. It’s oh-so 1993 and every time I pass it in the airport, which is every time I go to the airport, I chuckle to myself.

Don’t sell your daughter’s Girl Scout cookies for them

Who is still buying this shirt? The answer: a lot of people.

“We sell between 8,000 to 9,000 a year,” said Anna Kovalyk, Hudson group assistant general manager. “There’s a strong following with the Sleepless in Seattle shirts. When people come through, they must have it.”

So who are these people?

“We were at Sea-Tac and I realized I left my pajamas at home,” said Renton’s Kim Unti. “I saw the Sleepless in Seattle shirt and it made me giggle because I am frequently sleepless. It was a perfect fit for me and very comfortable. It makes a lot of people laugh and smile when they see it and I wore it out, I wore it so much.”

So she got a second one.

“My daughter knew I had to get rid of it because it was full of holes. For my birthday last year, on her way home from Vegas, she saw it in the airport and said, ‘I have to get this for my mother for her birthday.’ I have a new one and I’m so happy!”

Seattle’s Mardee Austin was on the receiving end of nightshirt. She never would have bought one for herself.

“I’ve always seen them in the airport and I always laugh at them. My mother-in-law, who lives in Florida, she absolutely loves the movie. Every time she’s here we’ll be driving around and she’ll say, ‘Oh, look! Is that the house? I think I saw that in the movie!’ So one day she comes to visit and she says, ‘Oh, I’ve got a present for you!’ It’s in the airport bag and it’s the Sleepless in Seattle nightshirt. I’m like, ‘You bought me a souvenir from the town I live in?!” Austin laughed. “I laughed and she laughed and I took the gift and never wore it!”

Sammamish’s Christopher Jensen moved to Seattle in 1996.

“Back when I was starting to interview for, let’s call it, a large aerospace manufacturer in the area.”

He was flying back home to New Jersey and wanted to get his family gifts that defied the stereotypes of the region.

“People thought Seattle was just trees, coffee bars, Microsoft and Boeing,” Jensen said. “I guess it was the movie that changed everybody’s perception of the area beyond Singles, at that point. When I was searching for something to bring home that was representative of the area, to teach them, this shirt came out of nowhere. This pink and gray nightshirt that I thought would be perfect for my mom and my sister. So I grabbed a couple.”

He says his mom still has hers.

“I wonder if it’s getting a little worn out,” Jensen mused. “After this, I wonder if I’ll refresh her with a new one!”

Austin is baffled about why the shirt still sells so well. Hasn’t there been at least one other piece of Seattle pop culture in the last 27 years that might trump the old romantic comedy? But Jensen finds it comforting.

“After 27 years you’d think this thing would be culturally less relevant,” he said. “But whenever I see the shirt, I smile and you’ve made me wonder why. I think it’s because we all like having that bedrock of something that doesn’t change. In our world of continuous change, especially in this area, to see something that doesn’t. I kind of wonder how long it’s going to stay there.”

Hudson’s best selling item is a bronze figurine of the Space Needle.

Listen to Rachel Belle’s James Beard Award nominated podcast, “Your Last Meal,” featuring celebrities like William Shatner, Rainn Wilson, and Greta Gerwig.

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