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"Aloha Shirt" Featured in New U.S. Postal Stamps

January 20, 2012

Hawaii was one of Elvis' favorite places to visit and the U.S. Postal Service is now paying tribute in the spirit of "Aloha." Five stamps will honor the Hawaiian shirt, including designs by "Aloha shirt" pioneer Alfred Shaheen. Elvis wore the Aloha style shirt in the 1962 hit movie "Blue Hawaii" and was often seen wearing them during his frequent vacations to Hawaii. 

Alfred Shaheen was the largest Aloha wear manufacturer in Hawaii in the 1950s and 1960s and the first to manufacture his own clothing line from the islands. Prior to Shaheen, most textiles were imported from the mainland. Four of the five shirts depicted in the recently released stamp art are his original designs.

Shaheen engineered his own machinery to print, dye and finish his fabrics and scoured Honolulu's junkyards for parts to use in building his equipment. Prior to statehood during a critical time in Hawaii's economic development, Shaheen built the most comprehensive textile printing, garment manufacturing, and retail company Hawaii would ever see.

Shaheen's impact on the textile and apparel industry is admired from not just Hawaii but from around the world. Shaheen drew his imagery from ethnic groups worldwide originating what has come to be known as "fusion fashion." Shaheen adapted designs from places such as Tahiti, Samoa, Hong Kong, and Tokyo to later produced Hawaiian classics such as the Pua Lani Pareau, Antique Tapa, and Joss Sticks designs.

In July of 2001, Alfred Shaheen was presented with Hawaii's Lifetime Achievement Award. In July of 2006, Hawaii's premier newspaper, The Honolulu Advertiser,  named Shaheen among the 150 most influential people, events, and institutions to impact social, economic, political, and cultural changes in Hawaii from 1856 to the present.

Alfred Shaheen's textile designs and fabrics were inspired by Hawaii, the South Pacific, and Asia.  His Hawaiian labels include: Alfred Shaheen, Shaheen's of Honolulu, Surf 'n Sand, Kiilani, and Burma Gold Hand Prints. They are considered the most prized pieces in Hawaiian vintage fashion.

Learn more about Alfred Shaheen and his impact on Hawaiian culture.