What is Hawaii’s Aloha Shirt?

When you think of Hawaii, chances are good that one of the first things that come to mind is the aloha shirt. Also known as a Hawaiian shirt, the aloha shirt is a staple of Hawaiian fashion. But where did this iconic shirt come from? And what does it mean? Read on to find out.

What is Hawaii’s Aloha Shirt?

Hawaii’s Aloha Shirt is a shirt that is typically made of cotton and has a pattern that includes flowers, animals, and palms. The shirt is loose-fitting and often has short sleeves. The Aloha Shirt was first created in the early 1900s and was originally worn only by men.

However, women began to wear the shirt in the 1930s, and it has since become a popular clothing item for both men and women in Hawaii. The Aloha Shirt is now considered to be a symbol of Hawaii and is often worn by tourists visiting the islands.

What Does the Word “Aloha” Mean?

In Hawaiian culture, aloha is much more than just a greeting; it’s a way of life. Aloha encompasses both the love for others and the love for one’s homeland. It emphasizes respect, compassion, and humility. When you wear an aloha shirt, you are not only paying tribute to Hawaii’s rich culture but also spreading the aloha spirit to others. 

The Origins of Aloha Shirts

The earliest aloha shirts were actually designed for and worn by paniolo or Hawaiian cowboys. These shirts were meant to be both comfortable and practical, as the paniolo spent long days in the saddle rounding up cattle. The shirts were usually made out of sturdy cotton or linen and featured colorful patterns inspired by nature.

Over time, the aloha shirt became increasingly popular with tourists visiting Hawaii. In the 1930s, Ellery Chun, the owner of a local store called King-Smith Clothiers, began selling mass-produced versions of the aloha shirt as souvenirs.

It wasn’t long before these shirts caught on with mainlanders, and they quickly became a fashion trend. Today, you can find aloha shirts being worn all over the world—not just in Hawaii!


The next time you slip on an aloha shirt, take a moment to appreciate its history and meaning. This iconic piece of clothing is much more than just a fashion statement—it’s a true representation of Hawaiian culture and values. Mahalo for reading!

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