Aloha shirt

Aloha shirt

The Aloha shirt is a style of dress shirt originating in Hawaii. 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 to make the printed pattern continuous. Aloha shirts may be worn by men or women; women's aloha shirts usually have a lower-cut, v-neck 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 motifs and are worn as casual, informal wear.

By contrast, men's aloha shirts manufactured for local Hawaiian residents are usually adorned with traditional Hawaiian quilt designs, tapa designs, or simple floral patterns in more muted colors. Aloha shirts manufactured for local consumption 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. [ Mike Gordon: "Aloha shirts", The Honolulu Advertiser, 2.7.2006] and [ "Wear Aloha" Exhibit Opens At Honolulu Hale", 8.6.2006] for the tradition of "Aloha Friday", as well as Dale Hope: "The Aloha shirt" with a different year of introduction] These shirts often are printed on the interior, resulting in the muted color on the exterior, and are called "reverse print"; this is often mistaken for the shirt being worn 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. 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. [ [ "Aloha Friday" Maui No Ka 'Oi Magazine Vol.11 No.2 (March 2007)] ]


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. Chun began sewing brightly colored shirts for tourists out of old kimono fabrics he had leftover in stock. The Honolulu Advertiser 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.

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 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.Arthur 2000, p. 34-35.] Aloha Week expanded in 1974 to six islands, and was lengthened to a month. In 1991, Aloha Week was renamed to Aloha Festivals. [cite web
title = A Cultural Showcase of Hawaii
work = Aloha Festivals
publisher = Hawaii Tourism Authority
date = 2006
url =
accessdate = 2008-04-09

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.Arthur 2000, p. 39.]

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 and the Hawaii Senate. Subsequently, a resolution passed in the Senate recommending aloha attire be worn throughout the summer, beginning on Lei Day.Brown & Arthur 2002, p. 78-79.] 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."Hope & Tozian 2000, p. 45.]

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, [Mufi Hannemann: "When the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawai'i voted in favor of Aloha Friday in 1966, they were acknowledging a sentiment widespread in our Island home: that we don't have to dress like Mainlanders to be taken seriously. Now the rest of the nation has caught some of the Aloha Friday spirit with 'Casual Fridays.'"] 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. 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, [cite news
last = Loomis
first = Susan Herrmann
title = Shopper's World; Hawaii's Short-Sleeve Plumage
work = Travel
publisher = "The New York Times"
date = 1988-10-16
url =
accessdate = 2008-06-21
] the phrase has become immortalized by Kimo Kahoano and Paul Natto in their 1982 song, "It's Aloha Friday, No Work 'til Monday",Brown 2007] heard every Friday on Hawaii radio stations across the state.Fact|date=June 2008

Cultural impact

The popularity of the Aloha shirt boomed in the United States after World War II as major celebrities sported the Hawaiian wear. President Harry S. Truman wore Aloha shirts regularly during his tenure in the White House and in retirement. John Wayne and Duke Kahanamoku endorsed major designer labels, while Elvis Presley, Jimmy Buffett, Bing Crosby, Richard Lewis, Arthur Godfrey, Johnny Weissmuller, comedian Gabriel Iglesias, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Dean Payne, Steve Bunce, Tobias Sammet, and Jay-Z entertained while wearing them. Filipino politician and former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza sports the Aloha Shirt like a uniform. Some singers in France, such as Antoine and Carlos, have made the Aloha shirt a part of their public image.Fact|date=January 2008

ee also

*Fashion in the United States



*cite book
last = Arthur
first = Linda B.
authorlink =
title = Aloha Attire: Hawaiian Dress in the Twentieth Century
publisher = Schiffer Publishig Ltd.
date = 2000
location =
pages =
isbn = 0-7643-1015-1

*cite book
last = Brown
first = DeSoto
authorlink =
coauthors = Linda Arthur
title = The Art of the Aloha Shirt
publisher = Island Heritage Publishing
date = 2002
location =
pages =
isbn = 0-89610-406-0

*cite web
last = Brown
first = J. J.
title = Did you ever wonder?
publisher = The Gazette (Colorado Springs) | date = September 9, 2007
url =
accessdate = 2008-04-10

*cite book
last = Fujii
first = Jocelyn
authorlink =
title = Tori Richard: The First Fifty Years
publisher = Tr Press
date = 2006
location =
pages =
isbn = 0978546601

*cite book
last = Hope
first = Dale
authorlink =
coauthors = Gregory Tozian
title = The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of the Islands
publisher = Beyond Words Publishing
date = 2000
location =
url =
pages =
isbn = 1-58270-034-6

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