Wearing a purple aloha shirt given to him by former Gov. George Ariyoshi, Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Friday said he hoped residents would revive the Aloha Friday tradition of donning aloha shirts and muumuu.

The custom has kind of “slipped away,” Abercrombie said. “Yes, there is a business side, a cultural side, and a legacy too. But it is actually enshrined in our statutes.”

Instead, we have “casual Friday,” he said, but with none of the same aloha.

Joined by business and fashion industry representatives at Washington Place, the governor also proclaimed 2011 the “75th Anniversary of the Aloha Shirt.”

The state statute referencing aloha reads in part:

“Aloha Spirit” is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others.

In exercising their power on behalf of the people and in fulfillment of their responsibilities, obligations and service to the people, the legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, executive officers of each department, the chief justice, associate justices, and judges of the appellate, circuit, and district courts may contemplate and reside with the life force and give consideration to the “Aloha Spirit”.

Gentle Jab at Sig Zane

The first Aloha Friday was promoted in 1964 by the Hawaii Fashion Guide, and the wearing of aloha shirts was endorsed in 1966 by the Hawaii Legislature and the Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce.

The popular reverse-print shirts sold by Reyn’s, meanwhile, were inspired by Waikiki beach boys who wore aloha shirts inside-out because the shirts had become worn from frequent use.

By the 1990s, however, Aloha Friday was replaced by “casual Friday.”

“But, what does that mean?” said designer Amos Kotomori. “A chance to wear blue jeans. That’s not something that is supportive of local designers.”

Kotomori reminded the audience at Washington Place that 40 percent of tourist spending in the islands goes to retail.

George Kam, Quiksilver Inc.’s “ambassador of aloha,” said he always gets noticed when he wears aloha shirts on the mainland, and he customarily gives them as gifts when he travels.

Kam’s remark prompted former Gov. John Waihee, wearing a long-sleeve aloha shirt and a Bluetooth device, to quip, “I’d love to give it away, but you know what I have to pay Sig Zane for this shirt?”

Follow Civil Beat on Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for Civil Beat’s free daily newsletter.

About the Author