Aloha Friday was the precursor to the worldwide phenomenon of "Casual Friday" and is still a celebrated piece of Hawaiian culture today.
How Did Aloha Friday Start?
Up until 1946, Hawaiian workers would typically wear proper business attire. However, that trend began to change. Hawaiian summers can get pretty hot and humid and the Chamber of Commerce began petitioning for workers to wear more casual clothing. The city of Honolulu began to allow workers to wear casual sports shirts in the summer months. At the time, aloha shirts were only allowed during Aloha Week each fall. Interestingly enough, the tradition officially started in 1966, when someone named Wilson Cannon Jr. (a man from Maui who was at the time the president of the Bank of Hawaii), started wearing hawaiian shirts to the office.
Later in 1962, the Hawaiian Fashion Guild began to promote wearing the iconic Aloha shirt (best known on the mainland as a Hawaiian shirt) in the workplace. The idea was that the climate of Hawaii made it uncomfortable to wear traditional business clothing so it would be a benefit for workers as well as the garment industry.
As part of their campaign called "Operation Liberation", the guild sent two Aloha shirts to every member of the Hawaii House of representatives as well as the senate. The organization recommended that "the male populace return to 'aloha attire' during the summer months for the sake of comfort and in support of the 50th state's garment industry." They began to lobby the government to allow government workers to wear Aloha shirts on Friday's and thus, Aloha Friday was born in 1966.
Women didn't get left out either. While Aloha Friday was initially targeted towards men, women also wanted to be able to dress more comfortably and began to wear muumuus or similar dresses in the newly casual atmosphere.
People on the mainland started to take notice (beginning in California) and the concept spread to businesses as "Casual Friday", a day where you could come to work dressed down in more casual clothing.
Although, I'm not sure if companies on the mainland quite captured the spirit:
It's Aloha Friday, No Work Til Monday
In 1982, Kimo Kahoano wrote a classic song called "It's Aloha Friday, No Work Til Monday" in homage to Aloha Friday. You can still hear it played on many Hawaiian radio stations on Friday mornings to get people relaxed and ready for the weekend. The song by Kimo Kahoano was a smashing success and still to this day, people know him from that one song he recorded. More than 2 decades later, after it's initial release, islanders still sing along to his cheerful song. And many celebrates the end of the work week aka Friday with causal hawaiian shirts and a drink afterwords. If you're not wearing aloha shirts on Fridays then get with the program!
It's guaranteed to get stuck in your head (Doo be doo, doo doo be, doo be doo be doo be doo!)
Beyond Aloha Friday
Aloha Friday has been a part of the Hawaiian culture for many years now. Some companies in Hawaii, take Aloha Friday to a whole new level. They will even put on something called a "Pau Hana Friday" (typically the last Friday of the month). The businesses will have snacks and drinks (usually pupus, poke, pipikaula, etc...) Some companies may even take close a bit early and give coworkers a chance to socialize and relax with each other. Seriously, if you haven't worn a hawaiian shirt to work on Friday, wear some aloha shirts and get some aloha attire if you don't have any yet. The cool thing about hawaiian shirts is that it's versitale and can actually be attire for any day. But above all else, don't forget to have a happy aloha Friday!
Isn't it interesting how something as simple as wearing a Hawaiian shirt at work can improve your outlook on life. When you put on an Aloha shirt, you're also putting on a change of attitude - one that gives you an appreciation for the simple things in life. If your co-workers are not into hawaiian shirts, promote aloha shirts to your office! Trust us, hawaiian shirts are hot in the fashion industry right now!
Mahalo and have a happy Aloha Friday!