The shirt, most commonly known as the Hawaiian shirt or Aloha shirt is a quite broad category covering informal, bright coloured short sleeve shirts with collar, closed with buttons, sometimes featuring a breast pocket, made from fabrics in floral or tropical patterns. It is, however, nothing more than a variation of a classical outfit made from a fabric manufactured in Hawaii, providing a popular export product. First references of shirts made from fabrics originally meant for japanese style kimono production can be traced back to the beginning of the XX century. First advertisments for these products started popping up in the XX’ 30. The Hawaiian shirt owes its broad popularity to surfer fashion and mass tourism which bore the floral cloth into the world. The height of this „Hawaiian madness” takes us back to Elvis Presley and his album cover for „Blue Hawaii” (1961). Al Pacino, John Travolta, Leonardo di Caprio and many others followed suit over the years and made the Aloha shirt a staple fashion piece.
In the local community these shirts are a tradition, considered to be a rather elegant get-up, worn to business meetings, offices, even by members of the government (abstained from only on more formal occasions) as a substitute for a classical shirt, tie and coat – a combination so popular in the Anglo-Saxon and Western European cultural circle. Indigenous habitants of Hawaii choose the more quiet patterns though, with florals visible on the inner side of the piece, which sometimes resembles a shirt worn inside out.
For a genuine Aloha shirt manufactured by indigenous people of the archipelago, pattern continuity is a must, as are traditional patterns. In the modern versions more freedoms are granted to the wearer: from Polynesian flowers, palm trees and surf boards, through flamingos and toucans, all the way to refreshing drinks with a straw.
A local product of traditional craftsmanship gained international fame and approval (despite certain bumps along the way) and made it into the next century, spanning in ever growing circles. By and by the world simply went bananas for the Hawaiian shirt, with party and wedding invitations suggesting „Aloha attire” (Hawaiian attire) and certain companies introducing „Hawaii friday” policies for their employees („Aloha Friday”).
Zaremba Aloha Shirt
Fashion is notorious for its notion of picking up particular trends only to put them right back down, and such has been the case for the Hawaiian shirt. Once worn by movie stars, other times associated with kitsch taste, befitting only to slightly overweight and slightly forgotten television personalities, oldfashioned uncles from America, barbecuing suburbian fathers, or perhaps freshly sunburnt tourists in the Bahamas. The hawaii shirt is by no means a staple of timeless fashion which is exactly why it is crucial to grab the opportunity when it can be worn and embraced in all its glory! You can wear it as a holiday souvenir, donning a laid back P. I. Magnum or a dangerous Robert de Niro or Al Pacino. It is more universal than you think. It’s always summer… somewhere in the world.