No 'Aloha' in APEC group photo

John Hart
John Hart
Josh Feldman
Josh Feldman

By Dan Cooke - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - APEC may be over, but the discussion about the "no Aloha shirt" group photo is just getting started.

Do you remember when President Obama was here for vacation last January? He very quickly and easily slipped into slippers and shorts and relaxed. Hey, it was his vacation! But not everyone liked what they saw. The New York post posted a photo and asked, "Should the leader of the free world dress like this, even on vacation?"

That reaction and others may have come into play when the president decided against an Aloha shirt group photo for the 21 heads of state here for APEC.

It didn't take long for our Facebook page to "light up" on the topic:

Matt Martin: "Lol!! Guess he's not the local y'all thought he was... Auwe!!"

Honi Mataio: "I think he should have kept the tradition going."

Hynqueen Perez: "Our schedules and plan were interrupted all week, the least they could have done was show us aloha."

HPU communications professor John Hart says APEC wasn't a vacation and the suit just makes sense.

"I don't think it's any more out of character to think you're going to be wearing a suit to this event than when you're in federal court. You know it's as we say around here, it's a mainland banker thing," said Hart.

Long-time aloha wear company Tori Richard made the very exclusive APEC aloha shirts for the photo. There were 21 heads of state, they made 21 shirts.

"That's it. No more, no less. That's why I have no shirt to show you today."

Josh Feldman of Tori Richard did share a photo of the shirt with us. You can check it out on the Tori Richard Facebook page. The design was a collaboration with the protocol office of the White House and includes the APEC logo and some Hawaii flora and fauna.

"We have the state flower, the hibiscus, we have a Honu, we have a couple of different types of fish including a Kahala and Mahi, as well as a Tapa element."

Feldman says he has been working on the APEC aloha shirt concept with the White House for almost two years, starting the day after Hawaii was announced as the host. So of all people, he understands why people may be upset.

"Yeah, I think people are pretty passionate here about it, I mean Hawaii is the only state in union with an official mode of dress and people take it very seriously, we certainly do. And although it wasn't selected, we're disappointed but we're not upset about it."

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle share's Feldman's positive view of the situation.

"The most important thing is they took it home. Okay, that's marketing across the Pacific Basin. I'd say that's a good deal."

The Aloha shirts were gifted to the 21 heads of state at Tori Richard's expense no tax dollars were spent on the Aloha shirts.

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