Poppy The Man The Myth The Bad Influence Shirt

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Poppy The Man The Myth The Bad Influence Shirt

When the age of plantations arose, new fabrics caught on. Working in the fields required tough, heavy, and reasonably cheap clothing. Enter the palaka. Named after the Hawaiian word for “frock,” these checkered, denim items were perfect for outdoor drudgery. However, unlike true Alohas, they mostly had long sleeves.Creation and Early RiseHistorians agree that the first bona fide Hawaiian shirts emerged in the 1920s. Though we don’t know who originally came up with the concept, some founding fathers deserve shout-outs.In the ’20s, University of Hawaii student Gordon Young worked with his mother’s dressmaker to develop a “pre-aloha shirt.” For fabric, they chose Japanese yukata cloth, which is usually used in light robe construction. Patterns included bamboo and geometric shapes over white backgrounds. Soon enough, his classmates started rocking similar tops. Young would later attend the University of Washington, where this revolutionary fashion statement turned plenty of heads.Aloha shirts also owe a tremendous debt—and their very name—to Chinese-Hawaiian businessman Ellery Chun. After graduating from Yalwith a degree in economics, Chun returned to his family’s dry good store in Honolulu in 1931. With the Great Depression in full swing, Chun’s establishment—like thousands of others—looked destined for collapse.

Poppy The Man The Myth The Bad Influence Shirt1

Poppy The Man The Myth The Bad Influence Shirt1

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Poppy The Man The Myth The Bad Influence Shirt12

Poppy The Man The Myth The Bad Influence Shirt

Then, in 1936, a light bulb went off. As he told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin many decades later, “I got the idea to promote a local style of shirt.” Like Young, he chose yukata cloth, and Chun’s sister Ethel created tropical designs. Their finished products were placed “in the front window of the store with a sign that said ‘Aloha Shirts.’” (Being business-savvy, he copyrighted the term.) “They were a novelty item at first,” says Chun, “but I could see that they had great potential.” He wasn’t wrong.Shortly thereafter, Hawaiian shirts underwent mass production. On the front lines stood Alfred Shaheen, a WWII veteran who’d set up his own clothing business (“Shaheen’s of Honolulu”) in 1948. Alohas were his big specialty, and as sales boomed, he hired a team of local artists to design lively motifs that included Japanese, Chinese, and Hawaiian imagery. By 1959, Shaheen had 400 employees and netted over $4 million in annual profits, making him the new state’s foremost Aloha shirt manufacturer.

Poppy The Man The Myth The Bad Influence Shirt13

Poppy The Man The Myth The Bad Influence Shirt13

Poppy The Man The Myth The Bad Influence Shirt1399

Poppy The Man The Myth The Bad Influence Shirt1399