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From is­land style to de­signer look­book, the aloha shirt has come a long way from its 1930s in­tro­duc­tion.

Waikiki Magazine - - ISHOP - By Natalie Tarce

ne of the most vis­i­ble sym­bols of Hawai‘i’s aloha spirit can be seen in con­tem­po­rary Hawai­ian fash­ion known as aloha wear.

Its roots can be traced back to 1820, when New Eng­land mis­sion­ar­ies ar­rived in Hawai‘i. Mis­sion­ary women adapted the lat­est fash­ion in or­der to ac­com­mo­date the large size of ali‘i (roy­alty) women. The de­sign was then al­tered into a more com­fort­able fit, and the holoku— a loose, floor-length, longsleeved for­mal dress—was born. The mu‘umu‘u was ini­tially a chemise worn un­der the holoku, and it wasn’t un­til the 1940s—with the in­tro­duc­tion of Hawai­ian prints—that it was con­sid­ered fit to be worn in pub­lic.

The aloha shirt that we know to­day did not come about un­til the mid-1930s. Shirt-maker Musa-Shiya first used the term in a 1935 ad­ver­tise­ment. How­ever, it was tai­lor Ellery Chun who trade­marked “aloha shirt” in 1936 as tourism in Hawai‘i grew. Af­ter World War II, bolder pat­terns with trop­i­cal im­ages emerged. Rayon shirts called “silkies” be­came pop­u­lar from 1945 to 1955. By the late 1970s, de­signs in­spired by the Hawai­ian cul­ture came about. Even­tu­ally, sub­dued look­ing “re­verse print” aloha shirts were in­tro­duced and are now worn daily in of­fices and other work­places through­out Hawai‘i.

To­day, the shift to­ward is­land-style re­sort wear gives aloha fash­ion a more cos­mopoli­tan feel. Some aloha shirts may not nec­es­sar­ily fea­ture Hawai­ian prints but have var­i­ous im­ages ar­ranged in a sim­i­lar pat­tern as a tra­di­tional aloha shirt. Visit any cloth­ing store in Waikiki and you will find not just tra­di­tional aloha at­tire but also a va­ri­ety of Hawai­ian print dresses, shorts and ac­ces­sories in­spired by the rich his­tory of a multi-cul­tural so­ci­ety that has made aloha wear a life­style.

And come spring and sum­mer, aloha shirt-in­spired de­signs of­ten make their way on to the cat­walks of renown la­bels. This year, the likes of Ba­len­ci­aga, Dolce & Gab­bana and sev­eral other de­sign­ers have all cre­ated their own ren­di­tion of the ca­sual-cool shirt—in­cor­po­rat­ing fun flo­rals, pat­terns and other col­or­ful de­signs into the short-sleeved but­ton­downs that Hawai‘i res­i­dents have long been ac­cus­tomed to.

Luck­ily, many shops in Waikiki have aloha shirts avail­able be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter Fash­ion Week. Year-round, you’ll find more tra­di­tional looks from bou­tiques such as Avanti and Tori Richard; au­then­tic vin­tage shirts at Bai­ley’s An­tiques and Aloha Shirts; and more mod­ern styles at Reyn Spooner at the Sher­a­ton Waikiki. Luxe shoe pur­veyor Leather Soul even has its own aloha shirt de­sign, thanks to a col­lab­o­ra­tion with the folks at Reyn Spooner.

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP: DOLCE & GAB­BANA SHIRT $865, BA­LEN­CI­AGA SHIRT $615, GIT­MAN VIN­TAGE SHIRT $200, ALL AVAIL­ABLE FROM MR­PORTER.COM

GIT­MAN VIN­TAGE

DOLCE & GA­BANNA Avanti 2164 Kalakaua Ave. [C:6 Waikiki Map] (808) 924-3232 Bai­ley’s An­tiques and Aloha Shirts 517 Ka­pahulu Ave. [A:12 Waikiki Map] (808) 734-7628 Tori Richard Hy­att Re­gency Waikiki 2420 Kalakaua Ave. [C:9 Waikiki Map] (808) 924-1811 Reyn Spooner Sher­a­ton Waikiki 2259 Kalakaua Ave. [D:7 Waikiki Map] (808) 923-7396 Leather Soul Royal Hawai­ian Cen­ter 2233 Kalakaua Ave., Ste. 301 [C:8 Waikiki Map] (808) 922-0777

BA­LEN­CI­AGA

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