Aloha Shirt - Surf, Film and the Far Right Movement

The One Block Down editorial archive is an ever-evolving resource detailing the cultures, movements and ideas that defined contemporary stylistic discourse. From unique takes on today’s leading pop-culture topics, to off-kilter stories that might have slipped through the net, our editorial archive is as fundamental as it is abstract.

Created in the 1930s by Japanese seamstresses, the Aloha Shirt was originally made from Kimono fabric scraps. The first Hawaiian shirts were made from Yukata cotton, based on a "Palaka," a shirt worn on the island's plantations.

The tailor "Musa-Shiya the Shirtmaker" was the first to market these shirts. Musa-Shiya would make custom-made pieces from the fabric his customers brought him for a few cents. The Hawaiian shirt began to be worn by students who, after classes, became "Beach Boys," the island's surf instructors.

After World War II, wealthier Americans took advantage of the development of sea travel to flock to the island. Fascinated by the lifestyle of the beach boys who taught them how to surf on the island, the Aloha Shirt became the souvenir to bring back from their Hawaiian holiday. In the United States, wearing an Aloha Shirt became a sign of wealth, but also self-confidence and open-mindedness, as this piece went against the codes of masculinity at the time.

Worn by Elvis in 1961 on the cover of his album "Blue Hawai," the Aloha became a piece used to define free and independent characters. Tony Montana in "Scarface", Romeo in "Romeo+Juliet", and Tyler Durden in "Fight Club" all of these characters have the self-confidence to wear what they want. Their virility and courage are proven by their actions. Very colorful and close to the feminine dresses of the time, this light piece does not question their status.

In the United States, however, the Aloha Shirt has become a symbol of the extreme right. Linked to the "Bungaloo" movement, it is used as a rallying symbol based on a racist private joke that originated on 4chan.

For this reason, the original Aloha Shirt shape is partly shunned by brands. Wacko Maria, Soulland, or Fuct rely on the spirit of the Aloha Shirt to develop prints that they use on Bowling Shirts. Its unstructured and more open collar makes it easier to wear.

To receive updates on our latest editorials and documentaries, be sure to follow @oneblockdownon Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter below for more.