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Aloha spirit needed in Washington

Monday 11 January 2016 | Published in Regional

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WASHINGTON DC – A Hawai‘i Congressman wants island shirts to be allowed in the House Fridays, a change from the current rule that requires full business attire in the US Capitol.

Mark Takai, a Hawai’i Democrat representative, said in a letter to Speaker of the House that he wants his fellow federal lawmakers to be able to observe ‘Aloha Fridays’ just like in Hawai‘i’s legislature does.

On Fridays, it’s common for business people in Hawai‘i to wear Hawaiian shirts, also known as ‘aloha shirts’ – the loose-fitting button-downs featuring palm trees, flowers, ukuleles, surfers, pineapples and other island themes.

Takai, the ranking member of the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Contracting and the Workforce, wrote that allowing aloha shirts would support small business and promote a custom that is unique to Hawai‘i.

He said the modern Hawaiian shirt started being sold from a Chinese dry goods shop in 1931. By 1962, they were being promoted as workplace attire. Aloha Friday was officially set in 1966.

“Today, Aloha shirts are more popular than ever,” the letter says. “What started off in a small store on North King Street in Honolulu is now a major fashion enterprise and a half a billion dollar a year industry.”

But the request is about more than adopting casual fashion, the congressman said.

“The Aloha shirt is a tangible symbol of the aloha Spirit – it embraces diversity, inclusion and friendliness that pervades throughout the State of Hawaii,” he said in the letter. “Embracing the aloha shirt will allow members to embrace the aloha spirit – something that Washington could use a little more of.” - AP