If you’ve ever visited Hawaii, there’s probably one lurking in the deep, dark depths of your closet: An Aloha shirt.
You know it, you might even love it, but you probably don’t know much about it other than it’s the most enduring and identifiable souvenir ever created. As it turns out, the history of the Aloha shirt is as colorful as its fabrics.
Enter “The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of the Island,” a newly re-released coffee table tome from Patagonia that explores the Aloha shirt’s rise from humble origins in the Great Depression to its starring role in a billion-dollar-a-year industry, and as a symbol of pride among surfers the world over.
Author Dale Hope is a second-generation Aloha shirt maker who inherited his parents’ clothing business when the garments were considered a spiritual badge, and later served as creative director of the legendary Kahala label, working closely with Patagonia on its Pataloha label. Throughout the hardcover, full-color book, Hope calls on interviews, archival imagery and personal ephemerae to track the long history of the Aloha shirt to today, as the shirts are experiencing a revival.
New to this edition are added features about the Aloha shirt’s permeation into surf culture, with vintage surf world photography, a chapter on Patagonia’s Pataloha shirt and introduction by legendary surfer Gerry Lopez — not to mention a tribute to surf icon Rell Sunn written by Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard.
The book’s re-release coincides with a new Patagonia shirt inspired by Rell and her “aloha” spirit.
“What began as a business to produce shirts for the growing tourist trade somewhere along the line morphed into something more,” writes Gerry Lopez in the book’s forward. “Something totally local, a rendering of the ‘Aloha Spirit’ into a garment one could put on and after taking off, would still leave some of that residue of that spirit on the wearer.”
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