Aloha Shirt
Aloha Shirt

Should you have the chance to visit us at our Honolulu offices, you’ll find many of us wearing the classic Aloha Shirt. Around here it’s almost a uniform – kinda like boots and a Stetson in Houston.

There is perhaps nothing that says “Hawaii” more loudly than the Aloha Shirt. Covered in parrots and hibiscus or sailboats and surfboards in riotous reds, purples, oranges and greens with buttons of coconut, the Aloha Shirt is a sometimes tacky and always wonderful enduring Hawaiian icon.

No one really knows who made the first one. Several stories exist, but none are confirmed. It is known that the first Aloha Shirts hit the scene in the late 1920s and that actor John Barrymore was an early fan. The name Aloha Shirt was trademarked by garment maker, Ellery Chun, in 1935.

And that was pretty much it. People visited Hawaii, bought an Aloha Shirt as a souvenir, and were a novelty hit when they wore them at mainland BBQs and pool parties after returning home (usually with a coconut ukulele in tow). And that, it seemed, would be the arc of the Aloha Shirt.

And then came Elvis. The King donned a red floral one for his role in the 1961 film Blue Hawaii. Suddenly, on the mainland, Aloha Shirts were all the rage. And their popularity would be boosted by Jimmy Buffett in the seventies, Tom Selleck (Magnum P. I.) in the eighties and even a young Leo DiCaprio in his 1996 take on Romeo and Juliet.

While the mainland popularity of the Aloha Shirt has waxed and ebbed, it has become an enduring Hawaiian icon, where it is embraced as a part of the business casual wardrobe and even allowed to be worn by officers of the court in many jurisdictions.

Here’s the thing. Regardless of fashion trends, the shirt has endured, basically unchanged, for nearly a century. And that’s why, as we celebrate our 40th birthday, we tip our hat to the Aloha Shirt.

See, we’re kind of cut from the same cloth. Things have changed plenty over the years. And yet, both of us have pretty much remained the same. The Aloha Shirt which is now, ironically, considered almost conservative attire (at least on the islands) and Cadinha, whose 40-year top/down, preserve and grow, active management approach is now considered “innovative” in Wall Street circles.

Fads come and go – both in finance and fashion. But the classics endure.

For more on this enduring Hawaiian icon, visit www.thealohashirt.com.