Long ago the Polynesians discovered Hawaii and brought with them some garments made from tapa bark from the Mulberry plant and dyed them with pigments from plants they found in the environment to give them color. They also made use of beautiful colored bird feathers to add designs and color to their garments.
In the 1800’s outside traders from America and Europe introduced cotton cloth that was colored and printed with a few simple designs. As the years went by Hawaii began to develop and soon had developed sugar cane and pineapple plantations as outside developers took control. The workers from the sugar cane and pineapple plantations as well as cattle ranchers or paniolos, (Hawaiian Cowboys) wore cotton palaka shirts which are criss-cross checkered looking print patterns with straight cut bottoms so they did not have to tuck in their shirts while working under the hot Hawaiian sun. They also cut off the long sleeves to help stay cool. And an increasing variety of colors and variations of these prints began to grow. Around the time the tourism industry was just starting around the 1920’s and 30’s one tailor named Ellery Chun put together a flower print shirt on a brightly colored background and became the originator of what we call Aloha Shirts today and the Aloha print industry was born with ever increasing colors and print designs turning out.
By the early 1940’s this new fashion of the islands was established as the Alohawear industry. This industry began to grow with steady demand over the years. Today Alohawear is made of many materials with cotton as the most popular followed by silk and other synthetics like polyester & rayon. The print designs today typically reflect the scenes you find around Hawaii with Tropical Flowers the most popular.
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