History of the Aloha Shirt

The start of the Aloha Shirt or Hawaiian Shirt can be traced back to the 1920-1930 time period, starting off in a local dry goods store called “Musa-Shiya the Shirtmaker”.  Some also say that these shirts started off in a store in Waikiki called “King-Smith Clothiers and Dry Goods”. The original location of the start to these shirts is somewhat vague when it comes to which exact store they originated in. 

 

What is known though, is that most of these dry goods stores started off making Chinese or Japanese colorful printed shirts, and then at some point in that time period switched to making Hawaiian style printed floral shirts. These shirts tend to always be short sleeved, collared, and button up styled loose fitting shirts. What really drove these shirts into popularity, was the military though!

 

In the 1930s, military returned from Hawaii with a ton of these shirts, probably because of the unique style and attractive look they had. Also probably because they were laid back yet fit in many situations.

 

In around the 1940s, these shirts were considered to be quite tacky as they were probably seen quite a lot. Also the quality of these shirts tended to be on the lower end. That is until Shaheen a manufacturer of clothing, started making Aloha Shirts in 1948. Shaheen tended to make clothing at a higher quality, and were more appealing to many customers. In fact, Elvis Presley often wore Shaheen manufactured Aloha Shirts!

 

Over time, many things started appearing, such as Aloha Friday, and Aloha Shirts worked their way into business wear for many people that live in Hawaii. In fact, it even is seen quite often for church attire, even outside of Hawaii! It goes without saying that Aloha Shirts have made a big impact culturally for the USA. They have also made a big impact for clothing designs and even the future of clothing in general. Many “vaporwave” designs can hold Aloha Print styles within them, just showing how modern and ahead of it’s time this design was. 

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