Aloha shirt

Aloha shirt

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The Aloha shirt commonly referred to as a Hawaiian shirt is a style of dress shirt originating in Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

. It is currently the premier textile export of the Hawaii manufacturing industry. The shirts are printed, mostly short-sleeved, and collared. They usually have buttons, sometimes as a complete button-down shirt, and sometimes just down to the chest (pullover). Aloha shirts usually have a left chest pocket sewn in, often with attention to ensure the printed pattern remains continuous. Aloha shirts may be worn by men or women; women's aloha shirts usually have a lower-cut, v-neck
V-neck
V-neck may refer to*A v-neck sweater*A shirt with a "V" neckline...

 style. The lower hem is straight, as the shirts are not meant to be tucked in.

Aloha shirts exported to the mainland United States and elsewhere are called Hawaiian shirts and often brilliantly colored with floral patterns or generic Polynesian
Polynesian culture
Polynesian culture refers to the indigenous peoples' culture of Polynesia who share common traits in language, customs and society. Chronologically, the development of Polynesian culture can be divided into four different historical eras:...

 motifs and are worn as casual, informal wear.

Traditional men's aloha shirts manufactured for local Hawaiian residents are usually adorned with traditional Hawaiian quilt designs, tapa
Tapa cloth
Tapa cloth is a bark cloth made in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, primarily in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, but as far afield as Niue, Cook Islands, Futuna, Solomon Islands, Java, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Hawaii...

 designs, and simple floral patterns in more muted colors. Contemporary aloha shirts may have prints that do not feature any traditional Hawaiian quilt or floral designs and instead may have such elements as automobiles, drinks, sports team logos, or other elements arranged in the same pattern as a traditional aloha shirt.

Aloha shirts manufactured for local wear are considered formal wear in business and government, and thus are regarded as equivalent to a shirt, coat, and tie (generally impractical in the warmer climate of Hawaii) in all but the most formal of settings. Malahini (newcomers) and tourists (visitors) often wear designs of many bright colors while Kamaaina (or those who have been living in the islands for a long time) seem to prefer less busy patterns. These shirts often are printed on the interior, resulting in the muted color on the exterior, and are called "reverse print". For those not familiar, it may appear to be a defect in manufacturing as the shirt appears to be sewn together inside-out.

The related concept of "Aloha Attire" stems from the Aloha shirt. Semi-formal functions such as weddings, birthday parties, and dinners are often designated as "Aloha Attire", meaning that men wear Aloha shirts and women wear muumuu
Muumuu
The muumuu or muumuu is a loose dress of Hawaiian origin that hangs from the shoulder. Like the Aloha shirt, muumuu exports are often brilliantly colored with floral patterns of generic Polynesian motifs. Muumuu for local Hawaiian residents are more subdued in tone...

 or other tropical prints. Because Hawaii tends to be more casual, it is rarely appropriate to attend such functions in full evening wear like on the mainland; instead, Aloha Attire is seen as the happy medium between excessive formality and casual wear. "Aloha Friday," a now-common tradition of celebrating the end of the workweek by wearing more casual attire on Fridays, initially grew out of an effort to promote aloha shirts. Although not uncommon to see professional women participating in Aloha Friday, it is more common to see men dressing this way.

History




The modern Aloha shirt was devised in the early 1930s by Chinese merchant Ellery Chun of King-Smith Clothiers and Dry Goods, a store in Waikiki
Waikiki
Waikiki is a neighborhood of Honolulu, in the City and County of Honolulu, on the south shore of the island of Oahu, in Hawaii. Waikiki Beach is the shoreline fronting Waikīkī....

. Chun began sewing brightly colored shirts for tourists out of old kimono
Kimono
The is a Japanese traditional garment worn by men, women and children. The word "kimono", which literally means a "thing to wear" , has come to denote these full-length robes...

 fabrics he had leftover in stock. The Honolulu Advertiser
Honolulu Advertiser
The Honolulu Advertiser was a daily newspaper published in Honolulu, Hawaii. At the time publication ceased on June 6, 2010, it was the largest daily newspaper in the American state of Hawaii. It published daily with special Sunday and Internet editions...

 newspaper was quick to coin the term Aloha shirt to describe Chun's fashionable creation. Chun trademarked the name. The first advertisement in the Honolulu Advertiser for Chun's Aloha shirt was published on June 28, 1935. Local residents, especially surfers, and tourists descended on Chun's store and bought every shirt he had. Within years, major designer labels sprung up all over Hawaii and began manufacturing and selling Aloha shirts en masse. Retail chains in Hawaii, including mainland based ones, may mass produce a single aloha shirt design for employee uniforms.

After World War II, many servicemen and servicewomen returned to the United States from Asia and the Pacific islands with aloha shirts that had been made in Hawaii since the 1930s. Tourists began flocking to Hawaii in the 1950s as faster airplanes allowed for easier travel and the former U.S. territory became a state in 1959. Alfred Shaheen
Alfred Shaheen
right|thumbnail|200px|An Alfred Shaheen shirt on a 1961 [[Elvis Presley]] album cover.Alfred Shaheen was a textile industrialist who is credited with popularizing the Hawaiian shirt....

, a textile manufacturer, revolutionized the garment industry in postwar Hawaii by designing, printing and producing aloha shirts and other ready-to-wear items under one roof. The tropical-print shirts for men and sundress
Sundress
A sundress is a dress intended to be worn by women in warm weather. Typically, it is an informal or casual dress in a lightweight fabric, most commonly cotton, and usually loose fitting. The dress is intended to be worn without a layering top, and the design must therefore cut a balance between...

es for women became standard and sometimes tacky souvenirs for travelers, but Shaheen raised the garments to the level of high fashion with artistic prints, high-grade materials and quality construction.
Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

 wore a Shaheen-designed red aloha shirt featured on the album cover for the Blue Hawaii
Blue Hawaii (album)
Blue Hawaii is the fourteenth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor Records in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2426, in October 1961 - the exact date of October 1 is disputed. It is a soundtrack for Presley's film of the same name. Recording sessions took place at Radio Recorders in Hollywood on...

soundtrack in 1961.

Aloha Week


In 1946, the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce funded a study of aloha shirts and designs for comfortable business clothing worn during the hot Hawaiian summers. The City and County of Honolulu passed a resolution allowing their employees to wear sport shirts from June–October. City employees were not allowed to wear aloha shirts for business until the creation of the Aloha Week festival in 1947. The Aloha Week festival was motivated by both cultural and economic concerns: First held at Ala Moana Park in October, the festival revived interest in ancient Hawaiian music, dancing, sports, and traditions. There was a holoku ball, a floral parade, and a makahiki
Makahiki
The Makahiki season was the ancient Hawaiian New Year festival, in honor of the god Lono of the Hawaiian religion.It was a holiday covering four consecutive lunar months, approximately from October or November through February or March. Thus it might be thought of as including the equivalent of...

 festival attended by 8,000 people. Economically, the week-long event first attracted visitors during October - traditionally a slow month for tourism - which benefitted the Hawaiian fashion industry as they supplied the muʻumuʻu and aloha shirts worn for the celebration. Aloha Week expanded in 1974 to six islands, and was lengthened to a month. In 1991, Aloha Week was renamed to Aloha Festivals
Aloha Festivals
The Aloha Festivals are an annual series of free cultural celebrations observed in the state of Hawaii in the United States. It is the only statewide cultural festival in the nation. It features concerts, parades, street parties called ho‘olaule‘a as well as various other special events planned...

.

In the end, Aloha Week had a direct influence on the resulting demand for alohawear, and was responsible for supporting local clothing manufacturing: locals needed the clothing for the festivals, and soon people in Hawaii began wearing the clothing in greater numbers on more of a daily basis. Hawaii's fashion industry was relieved, as they were initially worried that popular clothing from the mainland United States would eventually replace aloha attire.

Aloha Friday



In 1962, a professional manufacturing association known as the Hawaiian Fashion Guild began to promote aloha shirts and clothing for use in the workplace, particularly as business attire. In a campaign called "Operation Liberation", the Guild distributed two aloha shirts to every member of the Hawaii House of Representatives
Hawaii House of Representatives
The Hawaii House of Representatives is the lower house of the Hawaii State Legislature. Accord to Article III, Section 3 of the Hawaii Constitution, amended during the 1978 constitutional convention, the House of Representatives consists of 51 members representing an equal amount of districts...

 and the Hawaii Senate
Hawaii Senate
The Hawaii State Senate is the upper chamber of the Hawaii State Legislature. The senate consists of twenty-five members elected from an equal number of constituent districts across the islands. The senate is led by the President of the Senate, elected from the membership of the body, currently...

. Subsequently, a resolution passed in the Senate recommending aloha attire be worn throughout the summer, beginning on Lei Day
May Day
May Day on May 1 is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures....

. The wording of the resolution spoke of letting "...the male populace return to 'aloha attire' during the summer months for the sake of comfort and in support of the 50th state's garment industry."

In 1965, Bill Foster, Sr., president of the Hawaii Fashion Guild, led the organization in a campaign lobbying for "Aloha Friday", a day employers would allow men to wear aloha shirts on the last business day of the week a few months out of the year. Aloha Friday officially began in 1966, and young adults of the 1960s embraced the style, replacing the formal business wear favored by previous generations. By 1970, aloha wear had gained acceptance in Hawaii as business attire for any day of the week.

Hawaii's custom of Aloha Friday slowly spread east to California, continuing around the globe until the 1990s, when it became known as Casual Friday
Casual Friday
Casual Friday along with dressing casually during the week became very prevalent during the Dot-com bubble of the late 1990s and early 2000s rooted in a relaxed California-based business culture...

. Today in Hawaii, alohawear is worn as business attire for any day of the week, and "Aloha Friday" is generally used to refer to the last day of the work week. Now considered Hawaii's term for TGIF
TGIF
TGIF is an initialism for the phrase "Thank God It's Friday", celebrating the last day of the work/school week before the weekend. Its origin dates to the 1960s. It was first popularized by the restaurant T.G.I. Friday's which was founded in 1965. However, it became mainstream by the late 1970s,...

, the phrase was used by Kimo Kahoano and Paul Natto in their 1982 song, "It's Aloha Friday, No Work 'til Monday", heard every Friday on Hawaii radio stations across the state.

Cultural impact


The popularity of the Aloha shirt boomed in the United States after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 as major celebrities sported the Hawaiian wear. President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 wore Aloha shirts regularly during his tenure in the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 and in retirement. John Wayne
John Wayne
Marion Mitchell Morrison , better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. He epitomized rugged masculinity and became an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height...

 and Duke Kahanamoku
Duke Kahanamoku
Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku was a Hawaiian swimmer, actor, lawman, early beach volleyball player and businessman credited with spreading the sport of surfing. He was a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming.-Early years:The name "Duke" is not a title, but a given name...

 endorsed major designer labels, while Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

, Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy Buffett
James William "Jimmy" Buffett is a singer-songwriter, author, entrepreneur, and film producer. He is best known for his music, which often portrays an "island escapism" lifestyle. Together with his Coral Reefer Band, Buffett's musical hits include "Margaritaville" , and "Come Monday"...

, Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark bass-baritone voice made him one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, with over half a billion records in circulation....

, Richard Lewis
Richard Lewis (comedian)
-Early life:Lewis was born in Brooklyn, New York City and was raised in Englewood, New Jersey. His father worked as a caterer and his mother was an actress. Lewis is Jewish. He later attended Ohio State University and was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity....

, Arthur Godfrey
Arthur Godfrey
Arthur Morton Godfrey was an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who was sometimes introduced by his nickname, The Old Redhead...

, Johnny Weissmuller
Johnny Weissmuller
Johnny Weissmuller was an Austro-Hungarian-born American swimmer and actor best known for playing Tarzan in movies. Weissmuller was one of the world's best swimmers in the 1920s, winning five Olympic gold medals and one bronze medal. He won fifty-two US National Championships and set sixty-seven...

, comedian Gabriel Iglesias
Gabriel Iglesias
Gabriel J. Iglecias , known professionally as Gabriel Iglesias, is an American standup comedian and actor, known for his shows I’m Not Fat… I’m Fluffy and Hot & Fluffy.-Early life:...

, "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" Yankovic
Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic is an American singer-songwriter, music producer, accordionist, actor, comedian, writer, satirist, and parodist. Yankovic is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and that often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts...

, Randy Newman
Randy Newman
Randall Stuart "Randy" Newman is an American singer-songwriter, arranger, composer, and pianist who is known for his mordant pop songs and for film scores....

, Steve Bunce
Steve Bunce
Steve Bunce is a freelance television and radio sport pundit and newspaper columnist. He has regularly appeared as a pundit on the BBC sports programme Inside Sport and on BBC Radio Five Live's Fighting Talk...

, Tobias Sammet
Tobias Sammet
Tobias Sammet is the vocalist and primary songwriter of the German Power metal band Edguy, as well as the creator of the metal opera Avantasia and a member of the metal project Final Chapter. He also made guest appearances on the Rob Rock album Holy Hell and the metal opera Aina...

 entertained while wearing them.

Filipino
Filipino people
The Filipino people or Filipinos are an Austronesian ethnic group native to the islands of the Philippines. There are about 92 million Filipinos in the Philippines, and about 11 million living outside the Philippines ....

 politician and former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza
Lito Atienza
Jose Livioko Atienza, Jr. , commonly known by his nickname Lito Atienza, is the former city mayor of Manila and former secretary of the Department of Environment and Resources. He stepped down as mayor of Manila on June 30, 2007, after serving a three-year three-term limit for local government...

 sports the Aloha Shirt like a uniform. Some singers in France, such as Antoine and Carlos
Carlos (singer)
Carlos , born Yvan-Chrysostome Dolto, and sometimes called Jean-Christophe Doltovitch, was a leading French singer, entertainer and actor.-Biography:...

, have made the Aloha shirt a part of their public image.

The dress code for employees of Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's is a privately held chain of specialty grocery stores headquartered in Monrovia, California. , Trader Joe's had a total of 365 stores. Approximately half of its stores are in California, with the heaviest concentration in Southern California, but the company also has locations in 30...

 includes Aloha shirts.

Aloha shirts have also become a highly sought after collector's item. They have a loyal following, with vintage Hawaiian shirts sometimes being sold for thousands of dollars. The most sought after Aloha shirts from the 1930s through the 1950s are the large percentage of Aloha shirts from that period made of rayon
Rayon
Rayon is a manufactured regenerated cellulose fiber. Because it is produced from naturally occurring polymers, it is neither a truly synthetic fiber nor a natural fiber; it is a semi-synthetic or artificial fiber. Rayon is known by the names viscose rayon and art silk in the textile industry...

, since that fabric is the most comfortable to wear in warm weather.

See also

  • Bowling shirt
    Bowling shirt
    A bowling shirt is a men's shirt that resembles an Aloha shirt in construction, but not appearance, typically being more conservative and not incorporating tropically themed prints. They are loose-fitting, collared, short sleeved, buttoned shirts, with a straight hem designed to be worn not tucked...

  • Guayabera
    Guayabera
    The guayabera is a men's shirt popular in Latin America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Zimbabwe. It is also more recently known as a "Mexican Wedding Shirt."-History:...

     - Caribbean shirt worn casually or as business attire
  • Kariyushi shirt
    Kariyushi shirt
    The Kariyushi shirt is a style of dress shirt originating in Okinawa, similar to an aloha shirt, mainly worn in summer. The shirts are printed, mostly short-sleeved, and collared...

    - Okinawan shirt worn casually or as business attire

External links