Shirt Appeal

The Hawaiian shirt shows its artistic side.

Thank Hawaiians for Casual Friday, that revered day of the week when it’s acceptable to dress down at the office. Uncomfortable wearing a suit in balmy weather, islanders successfully lobbied for a loosening of business norms in the ’60s. Aloha Friday, as it was named, was a hit – and it eventually migrated to the mainland.

As for button-down, collared shirts for the rest of the week, the spot to shop was Reyn Spooner of Waikiki Beach, also known as the “Brooks Brothers of the Pacific.” More than 50 years later, the clothing outpost remains successful. The latest reproduces the work of Big Island artist Eddy Y with a ’60s surf scene on a shirt.

Photo Credit: Reyn Spooner
Photo Credit: Reyn Spooner

How the aloha shirt came to be:

1930s: Hawaiian Ellery J. Chun merges bits of leftover muumuu fabric to create vibrant shirts at his Waikiki shop, King-Smith Clothiers.

1935: An advertisement runs for the shirts, shoppers descend, and King-Smith is emptied of the popular merchandise that Chun has dubbed the “aloha shirt.”

1940s: Servicemen stationed on O’ahu bring the style to the mainland. Harry S. Truman, considered one of the most fashionable men in Congress, also adopts the style.

1953-1961: Elvis starts wearing Hawaiian shirts, as does actor Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity. Consider it officially mainstream.

Photo Credit: Reyn Spooner
Photo Credit: Reyn Spooner

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