Fashion / The aloha shirt is a quintessential Hawaiian image (as long as you never, ever call them “Hawaiian shirts”), perhaps only second to Diamond Head and possibly equal to the dashboard hula girl. The history of aloha wear is as multifaceted as the variety of its prints. One major contributor to the evolution of the aloha shirt is printer and designer Alfred Shaheen, who grew up in Honolulu and created an international name for himself in local fashion. Shaheen’s imprints and impact are the inspiration for the newest exhibit at the Bishop Museum, HI Fashion: The Legacy of Alfred Shaheen, which will run from Nov. 10, through Feb. 4, punctuated by a nighttime fashion show. An Evening of HI Fashion will feature a flock of vintage clothing from the Shaheen family’s personal collection and two tribute collections from Reyn Spooner and Andy South.
Shaheen largely contributed to the elevation of the aloha shirt into high fashion. His designs, created and printed locally at his Honolulu Surf ‘n Sand Hand Print factory, were sold in department stores such as Liberty House, Bergdorf Goodman and Macy’s. Even a notable celebrity wore Shaheen’s design on the cover of the Blue Hawaii soundtrack in 1961–we guess you could say the King wore the Master.
The fashion show will be a hybrid of past and present, as contemporary shirts will be revealed for the first time with vintage textiles. Reyn Spooner will showcase a special collection and local designer Andy South, who recently opened his Atelier boutique on King Street and was a third-place finalist on Project Runway, will put out a collection inspired by Shaheen’s meticulous dedication to producing locally.