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Hawaiian Shirts - Aloha Shirts

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by Chamorro, Jul 8, 2004.

  1. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

    The history of the Hawaiian or Aloha Shirt can be traced to the early western missionaries in the 19th century. They felt that it would be more appropriate, for the soon to be Christianized natives, if they were covered. But the real fact is, that it wasn't until the mid 1930s that the Hawaiian shirt, as we know it today, started to be produced. Modern research discovers stories of a Waikiki, Honolulu, Chinese merchant, Mr. Ellery Chun, owner of King-Smith Clothiers and dry goods. Mr. Chun was born in Honolulu in 1909 and died June 16, 2000, at the age of 91.

    [​IMG]

    He is considered the pioneer of the Aloha Shirt. He and his sister, Ethel Chun Lum, fabricated the first brightly colored, floral, short-sleeved shirt from left-over kimono fabric. On July 15, 1936, Mr. Chun registered the Aloha trade name and began marketing a variety of Hawaiian-print shirts. The story goes on to tell of collaboration between a salesperson of the Honolulu Advertiser Newspaper and Mr. Chun to coin the phrase Aloha Shirt. The future success of the Aloha Shirt was assured after placing one of his sister's designed, short-sleeved shirts in his shop's window with a sign that read Aloha Shirt.

    [​IMG]

    The shirts were purchased by local residents, beach boys, surfers and tourists. The first advertisement placed in the Honolulu Advertiser using the words Aloha Shirt was on June 28, 1935. With the birth of Rayon in the mid 1920s, the dazzlingly colored and tropically decorated Hawaiian-Print Aloha shirt became a staple souvenir of cruise ship tourists. Early shirt labels bore names like Musa Shiya, Watamulls, Kamehameha, Kahala, Surfriders, Alfred Shaheen, Duke Kahanamoku, etc. The 1940s and 1950s furnish us with a memorable list of personalities depicted wearing Hawaiian-Print Aloha Shirts. Harry S. Truman, our 33rd President loved to wear Aloha Shirts. He was on the cover of Life Magazine in 1951 wearing one. Montgomery Cliff and Frank Sinatra were featured in the memorable motion picture From here to Eternity in Hawaiian-Print Aloha shirts.

    [​IMG]

    The immortal John Wayne, The Duke, and venerable master surfer and Olympian, Duke Kahanamuku had Hawaiian shirt endorsements. Bing Crosby wore his Aloha shirts, with his rounded, flat-top porkpie hat atop his head and a pipe between his lips. He even had his own line. Arthur Godfrey, radio personality played his ukulele wearing an Aloha Shirt. Johnny Weissmuller who played Tarzan in the movies and was an Olympian in real life, and the list goes on and on. They all wore Hawaiian-Print Aloha shirts.

    So, despite what SOME people may say (Haoles like MK), the Hawaiian shirt is undeniably a part of the "Golden Era."

    [​IMG]

    REAL Hawaiian shirts are made with cotton or rayon and sometimes silk. They have bamboo or coconut shell buttons, sometimes bone. A certain style has the reverse of the fabric on the outside with the print bleeding through. And, most important, they must be made in Hawaii, not China, Mexico or Pakistan. Expect to pay forty bucks and up. Some brands like Kahala, who have been making these shirts since 1936, are a hundred bucks and more. As in most everything, you get what you pay for.

    [​IMG]

    For decades, every Friday has been "Aloha Friday" in the Pacific with Islanders wearing their best, most dressy Hawaiian shirts to work (instead of the stuffy, uncomfortable stuff they wear all week) in anticipation of the weekend.

    By the way since I'm on a Pacific Islander topic, the checkered blue and white Palaka shirt and blue denim trousers called Sailor-Mokus were just about the official national costume of Hawaii and Polynesia both on and off the plantation since the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

    But then nobody wore blue jeans in the aforementioned era, right? :rolleyes:;)

    Mahalo.
     
  2. Canadave

    Canadave One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,284
    Location:
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Interesting!

    I've got two "real" Hawaiian shirts (JAMS, Made in Hawaii) that I'll photograph and post later. I hope others do the same.

    David
     
  3. SHARPETOYS

    SHARPETOYS Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,425
    Location:
    Titusville, Florida
  4. pafc

    pafc New in Town

    Messages:
    19
    very interesting....i love hawaiin shirts.

    i have a question though...i own and wear several shirts that are sort of "hawaiin" in style, in that they are short sleeved with buttons and an open collar. yet, a lot of them are just solid-colored or have muted tones. i was wondering what this shirt style is called. a lot of people have called my shirts "lounge shirts" or "bowling shirts", but i really dont think they are bowling shirts. what do oyu guys think?
     
  5. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

    I can't be 100% sure without a picture, but they sound like what are commonly referred to as "Camp" shirts. Bowling shirts have to have the bi-swing back to be a true bowling shirt. "Lounge" shirt is too new and ambiguous a term for me. That could mean anything.
     
  6. Imahomer

    Imahomer Practically Family

    Messages:
    681
    Location:
    Danville, CA.
    I love information like that! Thanks for the lesson Chamorro. I for one appreciate it.
     
  7. pafc

    pafc New in Town

    Messages:
    19
    camp shirt eh? thanks for the tip, ill do some internet investigating
     
  8. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

    If you are interested in Bowling and Camp shirts, eBay is the place. Great deals are always to be had. Just picked one up for five bucks.:)
     
  9. Canadave

    Canadave One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,284
    Location:
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Here's on of my shirts...made and purchased in Hawaii;


    [​IMG]

    Detail;

    [​IMG]

    Same brand (JAMS), made in Hawaii, but purchased in Key West, I think;


    [​IMG]

    Detail;

    [​IMG]

    Here's a gabardine bowling shirt of my (deceased) dad's;

    [​IMG]

    Chamorro, is this the "bi-swing" back? (Armpit extensions? It's not too visible here);

    [​IMG]

    Aloha! :D

    David
     
  10. Chamorro

    Chamorro A-List Customer

    PUT IT THERE PAL
    (Johnny Burke, Jimmy Van Heusen)

    Bing Crosby and Bob Hope recorded "Put It There, Pal" from their movie The Road to Utopia Dec. 8, 1944, with the Vic Schoen Orchestra. The record spent one week in the pop charts in 1945.

    An excerpt from the lyrics:

    ...Your face could make a fortune
    Just your nose should make a lot.
    I like the way you wear those gaudy-colored shirts you've got, boy!
    The only time a rainbow ever covered up a pot
    You're such a perfect square...put it there!
     
  11. pafc

    pafc New in Town

    Messages:
    19

    thanks a lot! i found a bunch on ebay i'm interested already
     
  12. Michaelson

    Michaelson One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,839
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Aloha shirts - Hawaiian Shirts

    ...has introduced Hawaiian shirts of the 30's-40's on their website.

    http://www.historypreservation.com

    Scroll the left toolbar all the way down, and you'll find them.

    For your consideration.

    Regards. Michaelson
     
  13. Matt Deckard

    Matt Deckard Man of Action

    Those are rad. I might just save up for one.

    I'm not a big Hawaiin shirt wearer, though being repros of originals is a real incentive.
     
  14. Michaelson

    Michaelson One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,839
    Location:
    Tennessee
    It kind of surprised me, as I've only seen their ads in Aviation History mag offering their jackets and WW2 uniforms. These shirts showed up in the November 2004 issue advertisement, so I took a look at the website. They also carry classic 'denim' from those years as well....pretty neat site. Regards. Michaelson
     
  15. Matt Deckard

    Matt Deckard Man of Action

    Since it's damn hot outside, so hot monkeys are fighting over waterbottles,
    [​IMG]

    I thought I would revive the Hawaiian shirt thread.

    Who has one and anyone have vintage?
     
  16. BellyTank

    BellyTank I'll Lock Up

    I have one '40s no-name in a classic blue/grey swirl print on rayon.
    Several Japanese repros in silk; a red/yellow ukele Lady print with patch pockets and another in a crepe with a flying fish print- and some other similar styled shirts. My fave is in a heavy black satin with heavily embroidered gold Chinese lanterns on each front panel, a massive, pointed collar, gold Chinese coin buttons and those stylish yet useless small pockets at the bottom- very '40s occupation forces style. Not a Hawaiian I guess but in the exotic/holiday vein... Kinda shirt/jac proportions but much older.

    I have recently bought a Nikon Coolpix, so will have to start posting pics- as soon as me and the camera are in the same country that is.
    Moving cities in a week's time, so maybe in 2 weeks time then...

    Remember- those shirts don't have to be Hawaiian to be Hawaiian...

    B
    T
     
  17. K.D. Lightner

    K.D. Lightner Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,354
    Location:
    Des Moines, IA
    Honolulu Lulu

    I love them, have a bright yellow/orange/red one with lots of trees and waterfalls on it that I got off ebay a few years ago. It is an After Dark Falcon Bay shirt and is made in Korea. Hardly real Hawaiian. But it looks great, is 100% rayon, the only synthetic I can wear.

    I also own a number of We Be Bop shirts, which are patchwork and Hawaiian-type shirts for bigger gals that you can get off ebay -- some are so brightly colored they will knock your eyeballs out. With everyone today wearing plain dark clothes and driving gray SUVs that look like dirty ice sculptures, I love to tool around in my chili-pepper red car, wearing those cool shirts.

    Here is one I scored off ebay today.

    http://www.softcom.net/users/sopko/hawaiian nights.jpg

    Hope that works. It is black with bright Hawaiian flowers on it. I think the black shirts are the coolest...

    karol
     
  18. BellyTank

    BellyTank I'll Lock Up

    KDL- don't take this as a correction- just a Golden Era observation-
    Rayon isn't really a synthetic- it's processed cellulose from wood pulp-
    the lower grades going to paper production, etc.
    Rayon is a Golden Age textile.
    A processed 'natural fibre'.
    Viscose is a polymer from the same source.

    B
    T
     
  19. Absinthe_1900

    Absinthe_1900 One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,628
    Location:
    The Heights in Houston TX
    I have quite a few Aloha Shirts, the latest one is an out of print Sun-Surf "Land of Aloha"

    (Beware on eBay, Sun-Surf often puts copies of vintage labels like "Hale Hawaii" on some of their more limited reproductions, like Land of Aloha.)

    I suspect some of the recent "Land of Aloha's showing up on eBay recently with "Hale Hawaii" Labels are Sun-Surf repro's.

    The Sun-Surf brand repro's are pretty well done, but expensive.

    A very reasonable alternative for vintage repro's is Avanti's line of silk Aloha shirts, they have more designs than they show on their website, so it's good to get their catalog and the flyer of what is currently available.

    http://www.avantishirts.com/index.html
     
  20. K.D. Lightner

    K.D. Lightner Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,354
    Location:
    Des Moines, IA
    BT -- Thanks for the info. Now I know why I can wear rayon. Cannot wear polyester at all, not even if it is a 65 cotton/35 poly combo. It makes me sweat, I get rashes, and feel like I am entombed in the clothing.

    Not so with rayon, cotton, silk and even most wool clothing. I am glad to know it is a real golden era item.

    Absinthe -- I will find some We Be Bop shirts off ebay and display them -- I have a lot of them, and some are as colorful as the neat shirts you displayed. Those are truly cool looking shirts.

    karol
     

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