When Autumn leaves begin to fall Uncle Tweed always feels like putting on an Aloha Shirt, fetching himself a large drink with an umbrella and forget about his sorrows. This rayon garment, steeped in history, exorcises Uncle Tweeds autumnal ghosts better than any other item of clothing.
According to alohafunwear:
The term “aloha shirt” may have started as street slang in the early 1930s to describe the growing number of shirts featuring Oriental and Hawaiian designs that were being produced by Honolulu tailors. Musa-Shiya, the Shirtmaker first advertised the “aloha shirt” in the Honolulu Advertiser on June 28, 1935: “Honolulu’s Noted Shirt Maker and Kimono Shop. ‘Aloha’ shirts - well tailored, beautiful designs and radiant colors. Ready-made or made to order…95 cents up.” By another account, an advertising salesperson from the Honolulu Advertiser and Ellery Chun, the owner of the King-Smith dry goods store, first coined the term “aloha shirt.” In fact Mr. Chun officially registered a trademark for his Aloha sportswear on July 15, 1936.
Sophia Schweitzer writes in “The Aloha Shirt”
“Not even tucked in, blazing and bold, here’s the aloha shirt! […] In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s tourists, always looking for exotic souvenirs, fell for a fad of the young islanders, unusual prints. Artists and tailors spotted a serious business. Paintings of famous artists were transferred to the fabric of choice, rayon, silkier than silk and inexpensive. Designs competed in intricacy. Border shirts, picture shirts, patterned shirts. How many ways to say Hawaii? Labels themselves became works of art, reflecting inspiration and wild dreams of success.
After the darkness of the second World War, colorful, exotic prints were more than ever what visitors wanted. Add to this the attention Hawaii received in the 1950’s when it competed with Alaska to become the 49th state, as well as the intrigue with Hollywood. Aloha shirts became a craze.
Elvis Presley, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, all going Hawaiian. Montgomery Clift, dead in a ditch in “From Here to Eternity,” in Hawaiian print. Immortal, from now on. […]
In Hawaii, during those crazy years, opinions varied. All good and well in leisure time, but what about business? Many companies fought the breezy aloha shirt.
“Spiritually destructive,” said a Japanese boss in 1955. “Truth is” writes Honolulu Magazine, in 1967, “almost no man past 30 really looks good in an aloha shirt.”
Although Uncle Tweed would count the Honolulu Magazine statement among his favourite quotes, he still holds a fondness for the aloha shirt. What other item of clothing could be better for that Casual Friday?
alohafunwear informs us:
“In 1947 the Honolulu Board of Supervisors passed a resolution whereby City & County employees were allowed - actually, they were encouraged - to wear sports shirts from June 1 to October 31 each year to beat the summer heat.”
If you haven’t got an Aloha Shirt in your wardrobe, Reyn Spooner, founded in 1956, is perhaps the last true Aloha shirt manufacturer. They offer 100% spun rayon shirts with motifs ranging from the “‘57 Chevy® (Offered in button front style) via Elvis Presley to the Flamingoes of Disneys Fantasia.
Uncle Tweed would like to encourage each and every one of you, even if you’re past 30, to wear the Aloha Shirt next Friday. It’s your last chance this season.