Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI) is trying to make a splash on Capitol Hill — a splash of color.
Takai sent a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on Jan. 8 asking for a rule change that would allow Hawaii's signature aloha shirts to be worn on the House floor on Fridays as an alternative to the full business attire currently required by House rules.
"Since your ascent to the Speakership, you have promised a variety of reforms in the House of Representatives," Takai wrote in his letter to Ryan. "I would like to now draw your attention to a recommendation that I have which will support small business and promote a unique Hawaiian custom in the United States House of Representatives, Aloha Friday."
In the letter, Takai, who is the ranking minority member of the House Small Business Committee's Subcommittee on Contracting and the Workforce, describes how the aloha shirt was first sold in 1931 from a small Chinatown shop in Honolulu, became mainstream business attire in Hawaii in the 1960s and 1970s, and is now a $500-million-a-year industry. Aloha shirts are even worn every Friday on the floor of the Hawaii State Legislature, according to Takai.
"The Aloha shirt is a tangible symbol of the Aloha Spirit - it embraces diversity, inclusion and friendliness that pervades throughout the State of Hawaii," Takai wrote. "Embracing the Aloha shirt will allow members to embrace the Aloha Spirit - something that Washington could use a little more of."