Just a big mahalo to Alfred Shaheen, the man who not only made Hawaiian shirts famous and in the process helped gave Hawaii an identity after statehoood. He died in December.
Shaheen was Lebanese, and started making Hawaiian shirts just after World War II. It was a perfect time, as statehood was just around the corner. His look was slightly Asian, and he hired designers to create the bold prints.
Interestingly, Shaheen was one of a group doing the same thing, but with different emphasis, and no connections.
- In Miami, there was Supreme International, founded by George and Isaac Feldenkreis. Supreme, now called Perry Ellis International, brought great attention to the Cuban guayabera
- Just up A1A in Palm Beach, Lilly Pulitzer began making shift-style dresses to go with her juice stand. The rest is fashion history
- In the ski areas of the northeast, promoter Carroll Reed helped to bring an American twist to Alps skiing styles through classic sweaters.
- In New York, the Vera Companies also made block print scarves; their most famous designer was Perry Ellis.
Today, each state and region of the U.S. has designers and creators. While few have the great opportunity that Shaheen had (statehood and a completely unique isolated place), that doesn’t discount the opportunity for clever folks who sense something in the air in their peculiar place.
Find out more at www.alfredshaheen.com.