Sunday, 6 September 2015

aloha ‘oe or business-casual

No matter how long one has been in the US labour force—or indeed the international one since it seems that the tradition has been widely adopted, relaxing the office’s dress-code on Fridays seems something as firmly ingrained as the desperate compulsion to clean one’s desk of backlog procrastination and pass it off to another on that same day of the week. I know some co-workers just beam at their accomplishments, thinking it took me all week to perfect that problem and now I give it to you.
The former observance, however, is a relatively new practise with rather surprising origins. Purveyors of what is known as Aloha Attire sold, in lieu of conventional business dress as the islands’ hot climate make it far too impractical to expect workers to wear suits and ties, Hawaiian shirts and related apparel, meant to be worn untucked, to make office conditions a little more tolerable. Championed by a consortium of native textile manufacturers called the Hawaiian Fashion Guild to boost sales, the shirt-makers lobbied the US Congress (perhaps a small concession after the territory had been annexed by a fruit magnate) for an Aloha Week to strengthen relations between the islands and the mainland. Changes came about slowly and the garb was still associated in the main with tourists and outsiders’ ideas of what Polynesian culture ought to be, but the stock-market crash of 1987 and the savings-and-loan sector collapse that followed cemented Casual Fridays—whose unofficial uniform is the Hawaiian Shirt. Businesses had sustained significant losses and that translated to several lean years in salary and compensation, and companies hoped to placate the disgruntled without actually spending any money. This tradition of dressing-down for the weekend was born as a way of boosting employee morale—one which the fashion industry probably greatly appreciated as well, forming another nuanced category of clothing