Elvis Presley loved to wear them, and so did President Harry Truman. John Wayne was often seen in one, as was Frank Sinatra. Hollywood and mainland America have long embraced the fashion trend of Aloha shirts, which embody the culture and natural splendor of the Hawaiian Islands.
Aloha (or Hawaiian) shirts are loose-fitted and worn untucked, marked by dazzling colors and patterns. Their origin is traced to retailer Ellery Chun and his sister Ethel Chun Lum, who coined the term “Aloha shirt” in a 1935 newspaper ad. Islander lore identifies Japanese immigrant Musa-Shiya the Shirt Maker with creating exquisite designs out of kimono cloth.
Soldiers stationed in Hawaii during World War II brought the comfortable shirts home, helping spread their charm. Entertainers popularized them on film. The post-war boom saw an increase in travel, and tourists were greeted by the flamboyant shirts.
Aloha shirts are often viewed as leisure clothes. The 1940s “Aloha Week” celebration inspired the concept of “Casual Friday.” Soon, Aloha shirts were not just for comfort, but were acceptable business attire. Contributing to Hawaii’s laid-back atmosphere and cultural heritage, Aloha shirts have become a symbol for comfortable fashion around the world.