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Brand new Escapada Living Resort wear just added to the site and many new styles and prints will be added next month.

The History Of The Aloha Shirt & Aloha Friday

Ever wondered why that one guy in the office always wears a Hawaiian shirt every Friday? Hey, I thought we were all professionals here? At my old job on the mainland it was called “Casual Friday” and we were allowed to “dress down” for the day. Actually, come to think of it, that guy wore Hawaiian shirts everyday, but on Fridays he’d be sporting shorts and flip flops to boot. Nobody in my cubicle looked forward to Fridays. Anyhow, have you ever wondered how “Casual Friday” or “Aloha Friday” as it’s called here in Hawaii got its start? Probably not, but I’m gonna tell you, so sit back, grab a mai-tai and learn a little something.  You’re about to discover there’s a whole lot more to the Internet than Facebook. Oh, If you’re not wearing your Hawaiian shirt (or dress) already, now would be a good time to go change. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

 Ready? All right, let’s continue. It’s history lesson time.

 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 starting mass-producing single aloha shirt design for employee uniforms.

 After World War II, many servicemen 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, 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 sundresses 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 Presely wore a Shaheen-designed red aloha shirt featured on the album cover for the Blue Hawaii soundtrack in 1961.

Anyhow, 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. 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. (yeah!)

 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, aloha-wear 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 "Thank God It’s Friday" (TGIF) that’s all… nothing more.  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.

 *"Aloha Friday" was officially lobbied for in 1965 and accepted as a public tradition in 1966. Local history has it that Wilson P. Cannon, Jr., a Maui native who was president of the Bank of Hawaii, kicked off the tradition when he started wearing aloha shirts to the office. Way to go Wilson, You Rock!

 So there you have it. “The history of Aloha Friday.” Impress your friends with your knowledge at the next luau or around the water cooler. Whatever comes first? Oh and stock up on some more shirts will you. Don’t embarrass yourself by wearing the same Hawaiian shirt every single week. We’re professionals around here remember?

Mahalo, ~ Zippy Moondog


Hula Girl stocks fine resort wear by brands including Avanti, Bamboo Cay, Mens Tori Richard, Kahala, Kai Clothing, Pineapple Juice, Kalaheo, R.J.C., Escapada Living, Puanani Dresses, Puanani Tops & Rainbow-Jo Dresses.  You’ll also find the ultimate collection of famous Hawaiian shirts and vintage Hawaiian shirt replicas. Our selection of top Hawaiian products includes:

  • Mens Aloha Wear:  Board shorts, t-shirts and resort wear from Hawaii’s top designers, Hawaiian boxers, contemporary Hawaiian shirts, classic Hawaiian shirts, and the best vintage Hawaiian shirt replicas available.
  • Womens Aloha Wear: Tropical and Hawaiian dresses and tops by Hawaiian designers including Rainbow Jo and Tori Richard and fine resort wear by Escapada Living and Kai Clothing
  • Jewelry: Charms Of Aloha designed in Hawaii by Cathleen Bunt & made with Aloha. Sterling silver Hawaiian themed charms that fit Pandora Bracelets and beautiful blown glass beads made in Hawaii.
  • Hawaiian Bath & Body: Skincare, soaps & lotions and Hawaii’s very own magic Surfer Salve!
  • Tropical Home Necessities: Ambient lights & candles. Kitchen & cooking supplies & Tiki bar supplies.