Friday, March 27, 2009

Aloha Friday!!

Click on photos to enlarge!

Remember when I was little, and you took me to the beach?

"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough." Albert Einstein

Distant Diamond Head

"Anything done out of fear, is a prayer to the devil."


Yes, these men are working half-submerged!

"Are you still colonizing life, or have you gone 'native' yet?"


Before there were casual Fridays, there was "Aloha Friday" here in Hawaii.

The world famous "Aloha Shirt" was initially developed in Honolulu during the Thirties. First, colorful Japanese yukata fabrics were used. Then tropical prints were imported from Tahiti and Samoa. Traditional Hawaiian tapa cloth patterns, and Javanese batiks became popular too.

Ellery Chun, a local alumnus of Mr. Obama's school, Punahou and of Yale University (1931) changed the name of his family's King Street dry goods store from Chun Kam Chow's to King-Smith Clothiers. He arguably developed the concept there, and many consider him to be the father of the aloha shirt. Other local companies such as Gump's Department Store, and Watamull's East India Store, soon commissioned Hawaii artists like Elsie Das to create floral textiles emblazoned with local foliage, surfers and hula dancers. Mr. Chun's sister, Ethel, hand painted her own motifs that were then reproduced on cotton or silk in Japan. Today those vintage "silkies" are worth quite a lot of money!

Other classic-era Aloha Shirts were marketed by Branfleet, Kamehameha, and Royal Hawaiian. But only Mr. Chun had the foresight to trademark the term "Aloha Wear."

In 1947 the City of Honolulu began encouraging locals to wear Hawaiian shirts to work during the Summer months. Soon enough, Fridays year round became "Aloha Friday"s. Ultimately the shirts became ubiquitous, no matter the day of the week. Today in Honolulu's downtown business district few of the men one see's on the streets are wearing suits and ties. The only major exceptions seem to be attorneys and court workers who, nonetheless manage to look "local" in some indefinable way. It's easy to spot a "foreign" businessman in town for a meeting. The conservative grey suit is a dead giveaway!

Of course, the subdued patterns favored by local businessmen for office wear are a far cry from the loud shirts that a visitor to the islands might buy. Companies like Manuheali`i, Tori Richard, and Reyn Spooner are major producers of the finer sort of Aloha Shirt. Couples walking the sidewalk in matching Aloha Wear might as well wear a sign reading: "Tourist." But that's OK. Our whole economy is based on the visitor industry! So wear what you like, and have a wonderful day.

As the song says: "It's Aloha Friday - no work till Monday." See you at Da Beach! Mahalos to Alan Brennert, author of Honolulu, for his research on the topic.
A L O H A! Cloudia