“The Palaka was more Aloha than the Aloha shirt.” -Goro Arakawa, Proprietor of Arawaka’s General Store, Waipahu
The palaka is a traditional Hawaiian shirt that finds its origins in the shirts worn by English and American sailors landing in Hawaii (then known as the Sandwich Islands) in the early 1800s. These sailor's shirts had a loose fit, long sleeves, and were worn untucked. (Sounds like the palaka might also have inspired the style of the Aloha shirt, doesn’t it?) Unlike the light, colorful kimono fabric used for the Aloha shirt, the palaka was woven of heavy duty, cotton twill fabric, yarn-dyed in a plaid design. This sturdy fabric was soon traded between sailors and local Hawaiians, and the palaka eventually became the standard work shirt for plantation workers and paniolos. As detailed in Dale Hope's book, "The Aloha Shirt:"
"The 1932 Trade, Commercial, and Industrial Development Committee of the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce reported that '[f]or years the laborer has worn a palaka to work, it has been part of the cowboy's picturesque costume, and stevedores have worn them on the docks. In recent years the smart set of Hawaii have annexed the palaka . . . to their wardrobes. Boys and girls wear them to school, to play, to football games, to parties; the younger set wear them to house parties, to cocktail parties, and beach parties.'"
The palaka is the true Hawaiian work-party fabric (perfect for pau hana). Our palaka fabric is inspired by an old pineapple worker's jacket owned by Dale Hope. But rather than using a stiff and heavy fabric, our palaka is made of our lightweight and versatile Cowboy Cloth, while retaining the original’s colors and twill weave.