The concept of dress-down Fridays has been adopted by companies all over the world, with even the largest of international corporations adhering to this new dress code on the last day of the working week throughout the year. While many believe that this is more of a recent Western tradition, casual Fridays can actually be traced back to the Hawaiian Aloha Shirt.
The Aloha Shirt
Hawaiian shirts were first created by a Chinese merchant based in Waikiki, who reused leftover kimono fabric to create brightly colored shirts for tourists. It was in 1962 that the Hawaiian Fashion Guild began pushing for the Aloha shirt to become an accepted part of business attire in the state. The main reason for this was due to Hawaii’s climate, with the heat making conventional business attire extremely uncomfortable. It was also pointed out that encouraging workers to wear Hawaiian shirts more frequently would help to boost the Hawaiian garment industry. While the Hawaiian government eventually gave in, allowing the workforce to wear Aloha attire during the summer months, the Fashion Guild continued to lobby for increased use of the Aloha shirt, and it was not long before the workforce were allowed to wear them every Friday throughout the year.
One of the main problems when it comes to dress-down Fridays was that, once the workforce shed their conventional attire, the men were unsure of what to wear, turning up to work in shorts and sandals to go along with their Aloha shirts. There were concerns that dress-down Fridays were becoming slightly too casual, which is why Levi’s decided to send out brochures to 25,000 businesses across the country, depicting the clothing that was deemed appropriate casual wear for the workplace. Of course, the brochure was not altruistic and was actually a subtle advertisement for Levi’s Dockers – khaki pants that were usually only worn on the golf course. The Dockers were featured throughout the brochure, and it was not long before the majority of men in the workforce owned their own pair.
While Aloha shirts were already popular on the US mainland, it was only in the 1990’s that Aloha Friday, known on the mainland as Casual or Dress Down Friday, was introduced. This was largely due to the recession at the time, with companies seeking ways to boost company morale without having to spend any extra money. It did not take long for the concept of dress-down Fridays to spread across the country, before quickly making its way into workplaces all around the world.
Dress-down Friday is now common at many workplaces all over the world, and the concept also gave birth to the dress code Business Casual, which is often seen as appropriate attire for every day of the week. The next time you are choosing a casual outfit to wear to work on a Friday, do spend a few seconds thinking about the Chinese merchant in Waikiki that this whole concept can be traced back to.