According to recent reports in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, the far-right fringe “Boogaloo” movement has co-opted the Hawaiian shirt as their uniform of choice, leaving those of us who are not inclined to agree with their politics of hate and division – but still love Aloha shirts – out in the cold. What can we Hawaiian-shirt loving folk do in response to this egregious apparel takeover by an extremist group?
Already, a social media movement is beginning to emerge to counter the takeover, showing the beloved Hawaiian shirt as a symbol of peace, harmony with nature, and a sense of humor.
Lauren DeCarli, founder and Chief Creative Officer at Paneros Clothing, offers ethical, sustainable, one-of-a-kind upcycled vintage Hawaiian shirts (just a hippie enough description to keep the Boogaloo boys away!). Lauren is firmly on the side of reclaiming the Hawaiian shirt, and she told The Vivant “I believe that the only answer is to reclaim the shirt from the movement. To help combat extremism and hate, we have been donating a portion of all proceeds to the ACLU and I believe there is a role for brands to play in combating this type of thing. I believe that wearing brands whose story and mission is to promote a more sustainable and inclusive world is a particularly poignant response to the affront on the Aloha spirit being waged by extremist factions. And a great talking point for the wearer if the topic comes up.”
Kind Beauty Buys offers cruelty-free and vegan products – making them another one of those companies the Boogaloos would never patronize, which means the rest of us definitely should. Creator of Kind Beauty Buys Niamh Jordan has this to say about the Boogaloos and their attempted takeover of the Hawaiian shirt: “Ignore them. I think it is as simple as that. Looking at how the Boogaloo boys incorporate their Hawaiian shirts into an outfit is usually an eyesore, to say the least. So they won’t be winning any praise in the fashion stakes from me. They look ridiculous in my opinion, with their floral attire paired with a machine gun. I struggle to understand their supposed inside joke. However, on a serious note, these people are in a minority in America. And they aren’t even known outside of the US. Best thing to do is ignore them. If you like floral Hawaiian shirts, then wear them. And don’t let a small group of mean men stop you.” I love it, Niamh! I will do just that!
So no, the Boogaloos don’t get to lay claim to this playful piece of apparel, which I plan to proudly wear this Fourth of July weekend. No machine guns, no hate, just burgers on the grill and a nice cold lager..
(Cover image courtesy of Paneros Clothing)
Dan Blacharski is editor-in-chief of TheVivant.com.