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THE ALOHA SHIRT VS THE HAWAIIAN SHIRT

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aloha shirtThe natives refer to them as the Aloha shirt. The rest of the world remembers them as the Hawaiian shirt. These casual and easy styles were trademarked as the "Aloha shirt" in 1936 by Ellery Chun, responsible for the first official sales of the Hawaiian shirt. After taking over his father's Dry Goods store in Honolulu, Mr. Chun expanded the inventory to include the newly designed shirts which were made from leftover Kimono cloth. With popularity rising, he and his sister went to work producing three to four dozen shirts at a time, importing fabric from Japan, China, Tahiti, and the United States. His sister, Ethel, created designs focused on Hawaii instead of Asia and created the Hawaiian shirt design incorporating Hula girls, pineapple, and palm trees.

 

When the Honolulu Advertiser, a popular newspaper, coined the "Aloha shirt" term, the fashion began receiving credit outside of Waikiki. The first advertisement for the shirts was published in 1935 and soon the shirts were seen on surfers, locals, and tourists. The labels became so widespread that retail chains began to produce the shirts. Many servicemen who were stationed in Hawaii during the Second World War, returned home with the Aloha shirts. Soon after, means of travel expanded and people were able to take airplane flights from the mainland to the islands. It was Alfred Shaheen who was responsible thereafter for designing, printing, and producing the Hawaiian shirt in the same location. The same prints were then used for sundresses for women.

 

As of now, the Hawaiian manufacturing industry exports the Hawaiian shirt primarily. These shirts are printed with a variety of patterns, old and new, with a collar and short sleeves. The Aloha Hawaiian shirts are either pull over or button down on the front with a left chest pocket. These unisex shirts express Polynesian motifs and floral patterns. While they are known for their bright colors, native Hawaiian men often wear Hawaiian shirts which are muted in their color and have traditional quilt designs, floral patterns, or tapa designs.

 

Contemporary shirts aimed at tourists often display drinks, automobiles, or sports logos. Those meant for locals are considered formal attire and appropriate, if not encouraged in the business and government sectors. They equal the standard shirt, coat, and tie of the United States which are all impractical given the hotter climate of Hawaii. Local residents who appropriately wear the less busy of the patterns are referred to as Kamaaina while the newcomers are Malahini who wear the brighter colored Hawaiian shirts. The less busy shirts permitted in all but the most formal of events are printed on the interior of the cloth which creates the muted exterior color. These are referred to as "reverse print". The Malahini often think of this as a manufacturing defect. Complementing the female muumuu, the Hawaiian shirt is worn by men at weddings, dinners, or birthday parties, all of which are designated as "Aloha Attire".

 

Aloha attires doesn't is more than just acceptable birthday party garments. As part of the philosophy, culture, and lifestyle of Hawaii, these shirts became a symbol. "Aloha Week" was established by the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce which allowed employees of Hawaii to wear the Hawaiian shirt between June and October. This was allowed after the Aloha Week festival was formed. This festival revived Hawaiian culture by spreading and entertaining Hawaiian sports, traditions, dancing, and music. The activities which prompted the widespread appropriation of Hawaiian shirts as business attire included a holoku ball, a makahiki festival, and a floral parade. The popularity of the festival week benefitted the sale of Hawaiian shirts and muumuus. The tolerance of the Hawaiian shirt did not simply stop with a few months out of the year. In the Senate, a resolution passed which allowed Aloha attire to be worn on "Aloha Friday" which began as the last business day of the week, and has spread to the mainland where it took form as "Casual Friday". "Aloha Friday" is now the Hawaiian version of TGIF, and supports the immigrant-created Hawaiian shirt.

 

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