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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

HOW TO BUY A $120 ALOHA SHIRT


Yes, I did say I would feature Donald Trump today.  However, let me do that tomorrow, or maybe Friday.  In the meantime, watch the Republican National Convention from Cleveland.  You'll love it if you identify with FOX News, although even you would agree that the diatribe is considerably elevated to the point of almost being comical.

A few months ago I posted on HOW NOT TO BUY A PINK SHIRT.  Yesterday, I went shopping for an aloha shirt.  Sure, you can find a classic vintage for $1000, heck, $15,000 at auctions, and Bailey's on Kapahulu has some true antiques.  But $100 for just an aloha shirt?

The first aloha shirts came out just about 80 years ago and went for 95 cents, which is worth $16 today.   Ellery Chun graduated from Yale, and in 1931 returned home to work in his family's dry-goods store, King-Smith Clothiers.  Using leftover Kimono fabric, he made some shirts and invented the term--Aloha Shirt.

Mushashiya, too, in the mid-30's is credited with producing Hawaiian shirts.  Here is one from 1935.  From nothing to today the premier textile export of the Hawaii manufacturing industry.
Historically, the most popular aloha shirts were made from rayon, silk and Kabe, a Japanese crepe.  More recently, meaning the past fifty years, really uncomfortable cotton took over, for businessmen replaced dress shirts with tucked-in aloha shirts, and they couldn't be gaudy.

Shaheen was the prominent purveyor after World War II, and in 1962 came Reyn-Spooner with what ultimately became the store at which leaders of the community shopped.  I broke down and bought a spiffy button-down palaka melange from R-S:


I've had it for at least 30 years and maybe have worn it half a dozen times.  Hate the cotton material, and you should at least be aware that the blue palaka pattern came with Japanese sugar field workers in the 1800's.  Later, it became to be identified with Democrats running for office, and now, Republicans wear it because it's historic.

So, anyway, I stopped using the standard aloha shirt a long time ago.  This weekend, just walking around Waikiki, I noticed one that actually felt comfortable, made by Jams, a company started a little more than half a century ago in Hawaii.

The price? $120 at Hoku Boutique, located in the Westin Moana Surfrider, the hotel that kept getting in the way of my photos this weekend.


You can either impetuously purchase something like an expensive shirt, or just think about it.  Well, I thought $120 was ridiculous for just one aloha shirt.  

So what did I do yesterday?  I caught the #4 bus to my University of Hawaii office for a meeting, then went on the #13 bus  down Kapahulu, where I waved hi at Bailey's, landing on Kuhio near the Food Pantry and Marukame Udon.  I got a small bottle of sake (you need to sneak this in if you want something alcoholic) and at 3:15PM people were waiting to get in...yes, stood in line, in the mid-afternoon.  The udon is made in front of you as you move through the ordering process:


I don't think this place is air-conditioned.  Plus, eating a curry-flavored udon can be a disaster if you're not careful.  The noodles are five times thicker than spaghetti and just slurps around, propelling brown stuff unto your shirt and shorts.  There is no sure way to eat this unwieldy concoction.  I was dripping in my sweat and spotted (actually, I wiped off much of those brown stains) with some of my noodle soup when I walked into Hoku Boutique, quickly ordered that infamous shirt and decided to wear it on the spot so that I could catch my bus back home in some comfort.


You say, what, that shirt cost $120?  Well, there are all kinds of historic features symbolizing Hawaii:


And it's really, really comfortable.  

Incidentally, on Sunday, my Waikiki posting indicated that Princess Kaiulani was interred at the Royal Mausoleum, very close to 15 Craigside.  Getting back home from Waikiki is a challenge on the bus, but the weather was pleasant, so I kept on the #13 up Liliha, and on the long walk down Nuuanu happen to pass by this historic monument.  I did not realize we are close neighbors, for here is a photo of Princess Kaiulani's final resting place, with, in the background, the architectural marvel where I now live (the blue building):

The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke its all-time record for the seventh straight day, rising 36 to 18,595.

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