Hawaii's 'Aloha shirts' have Japanese roots

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"Hawaiian businessmen today wear aloha shirts even on formal occasions. Though the colorful summer shirts are popular worldwide, they have Japan roots," reports Nikkei Asian Review.

"Japanese immigrants who headed to Hawaii after 1868, at the very end of Edo period (1603-1867), were the first to make the shirts."

Ryoichi Kobayashi of Toyo Enterprise acquired the aloha shirt shown here at "a holy grail for clothes collectors" in Kyoto, Japan. The silk shirt features Mount Fuji, goldfish and Japanese folklore characters, and the cloth resembles kimono design of the period.

"It was one of the first set of 12 to hit the Hawaiian market in 1937. Musashiya Shoten, a tailor run by one of the first wave of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, made the shirt."

More at Nikkei Asian Review.

[Thanks, @frankiebit]

Notable Replies

  1. Ahem!

    Aloha shirts - or at least their popularization - are usually credited to Ellery Chun, who according to his NYT obituary began selling them in small batches at his family dry-goods store in Honolulu, and then began mass-producing them in 1933, 4 years before the Japanese store mentioned in the above link started selling them. Credit to the Chinese-Americans and Hawaiians, please.

    Now if the Japanese want to take credit for being the first to make them out of really top-grade printed silk, then in the absence of evidence to the contrary, sure I'll give them that.

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