The Land of Aloha Shirts
There is no other piece of clothing more recognizable around the world than the Aloha shirt.
Its signature bold designs and vivid colors have been known to induce feelings of the “Aloha Spirit” whether near or far to the
islands of Hawai‘i. Aloha shirts have come to symbolize a lifestyle that honors quality before quantity and reflects the romance
and beauty of this alluring state. Many different stories have been passed down through generations regarding the origins of
the Aloha shirt. Was it one man and his hand held sewing machine or the accumulation of immigrant influence and trade?
Whatever the case, the industry of Aloha shirts has evolved from a simple “side job” operation into a multimillion-dollar export
In the 1850s, immigrants from Japan and China worked as contract laborers on Hawai‘i’s sugar and pineapple plantations
where they were paid a meager salary of $3.00 a day. As a way to supplement their income, many immigrants opened up small
businesses—the majority being custom tailor shops. These shops would often specialize in making plantation uniforms. For
women, the kimono was a typical working uniform, and for men, a simple short-sleeved shirt. The materials used to make these
garments came from fabrics specially imported from Asian countries. Japanese printed silk and a type of cotton kimono called
yukata, which was usually made of cotton for everyday clothing, influenced the creation of the Aloha shirt. As Hawai‘i’s tourist