Article: The History of Aloha Friday


Back in 1946, when the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce first considered the wearing of aloha shirts during the summer months, the business community was still of a missionary mindset: Never mind how hot it is, a proper businessman wears a suit and tie.

But the City and County of Honolulu, and later the territorial government, began to allow employees to wear sport shirts from June through October yearly. Aloha shirts were allowed only during Aloha Week each fall.

In the early ‘60s, designers came up with shirts in dignified, subdued designs and a clothing manufacturers’ group launched a campaign to institute Aloha Friday. The tradition officially began in 1966 when Wilson P. Cannon, Jr., a Maui boy who was president of the Bank of Hawai‘i, started wearing aloha shirts to the office.

Many companies allow their employees to “dress down” on the last day of the workweek – on Aloha Friday. The concept of Aloha Friday has spread even to the Mainland, as “casual Friday,” and in some places the trend has moved to wearing Hawaiian-style shirts.

A local singer, Kimo Kahoano, recorded a song called "Aloha Friday." More than two decades after its release, Islanders still sing along to the cheerful tune that begins, “It’s Aloha Friday, no work till Monday,” and many celebrate the end of the work week with a pau hana drink.

Today, aloha shirts are everyday business wear, but knowing that it’s Aloha Friday still gives Islanders a little head start on the freedom of the weekend.

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