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Leaders choose suits over exclusive aloha design

By B.J. Reyes

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:13 p.m. HST, Nov 14, 2011


There was no aloha for aloha shirts Sunday as world leaders, for the second year in a row, discarded the tradition of appearing in locale-specific attire for their "family photo" to wrap up the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation annual summit.

Leaders from the 21 member nations all took to the photo platform in dark suits with individual tie selections, save for one: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who wore a white blazer over a reddish blouse.

The subject of whether leaders would wear the colorful island-print shirts was a hot topic as the summit drew toward Sunday's group photo. President Bill Clinton began the tradition of wearing local garb for the photo when APEC began in 1993.

There had been some speculation that aloha shirts would be scrapped to avoid the appearance of world leaders acting frivolously during a time of economic austerity.

Asked at a press conference about the decision, Obama said Sunday that leaders were given a shirt, "and if they wanted to wear the shirt, I promise you it would've been fine. But I didn't hear a lot of complaints about us breaking precedent on that one."

Obama said he had looked at past family photo outfits, "and I thought, ‘This may be a tradition that we might want to break.'" Leaders at last year's meetings, in Yokohama, Japan, also ditched traditional-style garb.

Honolulu-based Tori Richard Ltd., which designed aloha shirts worn by organizers and volunteers for APEC, also was commissioned by the White House to design a special APEC-themed shirt for the 21 world leaders, said Josh Feldman, company president.

"We produced 21 shirts in the design that at the White House's request we not show to the public until the leaders were given the shirt as a gift," Feldman said in an email. "While we are disappointed a decision was made not to wear them for the iconic photo, we were still honored to be selected."






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Maneki_Neko wrote:
How incredibly insensitive to the local garment industry. Too good to wear aloha shirts? Go home, then. Thanks, Barry for your stimulative support and continued boundless snobbery. Aloha to you.
on November 14,2011 | 04:02AM
Highinthesierras wrote:
Hey, maybe too tasteful? Aloha shirts are to be gaudy and fun, not dlomatic and PC, no?
on November 14,2011 | 06:49AM
KekoaBradshaw wrote:
This "ahoha" design doesn't look like a mainlander's view of an "aloha shirt". I've worn Reyn's shirts on the mainland because they're so easy to care for, don't need ironing, etc. People admire the shirt but when I say it's an "aloha shirt", they're surprised because mainlanders think of something from Hilo Hattie (gaudy and fun) as an "aloha shirt". IMHO, this design from Tori Richard is way too low-key and subdued (and I wear Reyns shirts almost every day, so I'm not into gaudy and fun). I can see why the leaders weren't demanding to wear it.
on November 14,2011 | 12:45PM
Anonymous wrote:
"Local"? Check the labels the next time you are shopping for Tori Richards' shirts. Many are made in China and virtually ALL of them are of imported silk. Owned locally, yes. Local product? Not really.
on November 14,2011 | 08:39AM
Tony91 wrote:
On Tori Richard's Facebook page it says this shirt is made in Hawaii and I own a number of their shirts and they are labeled "Made in Hawaii, USA from imported fabric" I'm not sure, but I don't think there are any textile mills in Hawaii!
on November 14,2011 | 10:03AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
There are on the mainland which would qualify as "Made in the USA".
on November 14,2011 | 11:52AM
Tony91 wrote:
No, Tori Richard is in Hawaii and the shirts say made in Hawaii.
on November 14,2011 | 12:38PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
I was replying to your textile mills comment. There are textile mills in the Mainland US, but Tori and the others buy fabric from China and Japan and South America... because it's cheaper. And it's so cheap, there is barely ANY silk (if any) made in the US anymore.
on November 14,2011 | 02:46PM
Guill wrote:
Are they for sale to general public?
on November 14,2011 | 04:11AM
wiliki wrote:
The SA doesn't get it. APEC is NOT a boondoggle.
on November 14,2011 | 04:13AM
Hawaiian_Tigress wrote:
That aloha shirt is ugly. If given the choice, I wouldn't have worn it, either.
on November 14,2011 | 04:30AM
bwaikiki wrote:
Yes, I would never chose it .
on November 14,2011 | 04:52AM
Sunny wrote:
Agree, this is an ugly shirt, I would not want to wear it and would certainly not buy one either!
on November 14,2011 | 12:20PM
smith2650 wrote:
This is front page news in a state where the ALOHA SHIRT is a key identification and part of our "culture". Hawaii gave Aloha to the APEC folks but got little back. The very least these pampered chaufered men could have done was to do something so that the world clearly knew Hawaii was the host. Kudos to the Australian female PM for wearing some color. The SA puts the story on A15 to protect Obama. Bet the story would have been FRONT PAGE HEADLINE if George Bush had done this!! Pathetic.
on November 14,2011 | 04:44AM
1coconut wrote:
Take it easy dude before you blow a gasket. The aloha shirt is the least of our worries. Wait until the true costs of the APEC summit comes to light if it ever does. The people of Oahu wasted millions of dollars hosting this boondoggle and all we got was a police state for a week. Next time let them visit North Korea where the people are used to a police state.
on November 14,2011 | 05:09AM
Kawipoo wrote:
Get over it. Who cares if they wear Hawaiian shirts or not? Obama gave them the choice and they picked formal suits. Maybe they should have posed in slippers and gave the shaka as well. Grow up. Hawaii is not the center of the universe.
on November 14,2011 | 05:11AM
smith2650 wrote:
A real leader would have lead by example. Obama was the first person who should have put the Aloha shirt on and let all the others do what they wanted. Lack of leadership is typical Obama.
on November 14,2011 | 09:18AM
KekoaBradshaw wrote:
Yeah, right. If the president was the only one in the picture wearing an aloha shirt you would have criticized him for that.
on November 14,2011 | 12:47PM
Windwardite wrote:
Sad! They looked ridiculous in suits in the group photo! Who wears suits, especially in Hawaii? Where is the Aloha? Come on Prez!!!!
on November 14,2011 | 05:34AM
waianae94 wrote:
Who wears aloha shirts all the time? Suits or T-shirts, usually.
on November 14,2011 | 07:29AM
tiki886 wrote:
Steve McGarrett wore suits all the time and never even sweated while chasing the bad guys all over town in the hot sun. Even his haired was stiff. I think the APEC group looked dignified in suits. It's a uniform that more locals like me should wear more often. We locals are too provincial.
on November 14,2011 | 02:13PM
MKZhawaii wrote:
Shameful and embarrassing. If this decision was made by someone not born and raised in Hawaii, we could have chalked it up as just insensitive. But from Pres. Obama? This is disrespectful to our local customs, as well as a missed opportunity to share our "aloha" acorss the world. Aren't we try to "sell" Hawaii as a safe and relaxed business destination. We tell everyone not to bring suits to Hawaii. But, he told everyone...no it's frivilious to wear Aloha shirts. WOW...doesn't he know we where them everyday to work? Traditions can be broken. But not one that is so tied to our local way of life. My family and friends are shocked by his flip comments. Franky, he has more to worry about...he lost our vote.
on November 14,2011 | 05:36AM
High_Society wrote:
Problem with obama is that he wasn't born and raised in Hawaii. :-(
on November 14,2011 | 06:25PM
TeamVision wrote:
For the people who complain about leaders wearing suits, take a good look at our kids. 90% of our high school boys in Hawaii don't know how to put on a tie. You don't believe me? Take a look at the St. Louis ad banner that plays at the top of this page. If our boys go into the world looking like that, that is very sad.
on November 14,2011 | 06:13AM
toomuchpilikia wrote:
This is so pathetic...this is a nasty design and a shirt that I would probably wear once only! The bottom line is that OB1 has and will continue to spend our tax dollars into oblivion. OB1, you are too expensive!
on November 14,2011 | 06:33AM
HoldEverything wrote:
These guys would have looked ridiculous wearing aloha shirts. I agree that it would have sent the wrong message about Hawaii as a serious place to do business. They'd have looked as though they'd been at one big luau.
on November 14,2011 | 06:28AM
Anonymous wrote:
Yet another waste of taxpayer dollars?
on November 14,2011 | 06:50AM
Richard22 wrote:
So once again our "native son" chooses to dis his home state. And then chalks it up to "the leaders" decision not to wear the aloha shirts. When will folks learn to heed his actions and not his silky words!
on November 14,2011 | 06:57AM
sak wrote:
If they had been made out of kevlar they might have worn them. But then again they would have looked like a big family just out of Hilo Hatties, which just had a sale, all wearing the same colors.
on November 14,2011 | 07:01AM
tim5fl wrote:
I think the world leaders would have looked silly in aloha shirts.They are here on serious business not vacation.Same with flowers around their necks.
on November 14,2011 | 07:30AM
waianae94 wrote:
Did we want the APEC people to wear aloha shirts on "silly shirt" day? Wouldn't that call aloha shirts "silly?" I think President Obama did us a favor by not mocking the attire.
on November 14,2011 | 07:31AM
Tony91 wrote:
I think you hit the nail on the head. They should have at least worn a lei but I think it might have been a risky thing for Hawaii if they wore the shirts.
on November 14,2011 | 10:09AM
stanislous wrote:
First it was the thing with no flower lei... now no aloha shirts? (Slick Willie is looking better all the time). Sorry man, you lost my vote next election.
on November 14,2011 | 07:34AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Yes, we are all convinced you would have voted for President Obama right up until he made the decision on the shirts and THEN you changed your mind. Yup, I'm sure that's how it happened. Thank you for your genuine concern for the important issues facing our country.
on November 14,2011 | 07:39AM
waikiicapt wrote:
Another stellar example of how Obama has no capacity or ability for leadership. If you can't persuade these other leaders from wearing a respectable looking Aloha shirt at a photo op session...then what can you do? History is going to show that the "Affirmative Action President" (google this phrase) was a pathetic embarrassment not only for Hawaii, but this nation. This guy can't lead the way out of a paper bag. I hope this is the last noteworthy detail that will convince locals that Obama has little, if any, concern for his 'native home.' Actions speak louder than teleprompter words.
on November 14,2011 | 07:41AM
steveoctober wrote:
Completely agree. The photo is a marketing disaster. Then again, what does Obama know. He's never held a position in business where marketing is something one needs to constantly think about if they want their firm to succeed.
on November 14,2011 | 11:47AM
tutunona wrote:
Never mind the "goofy design" shirts but what about our beautiful flower leis?
on November 14,2011 | 07:57AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Being born and raised in Hawaii, I was taken aback by Obama for dismissing aloha wear. The leaders from other countries have donned clothing of the sponsoring country in the past so I fail to see why Obama would dismiss it. Tori Richards and Reyn Spooner makes high end aloha shirts that are beautiful. Ashamed of your Hawaiian'ness Mr. President?
on November 14,2011 | 08:00AM
Anonymous wrote:
We have 8 Tori Richards shirts in the closet. 3 made in China. 5 are made in the USA (where, I wonder?) and all of them are of IMPORTED fabric. So much for "Hawaii".
on November 14,2011 | 08:36AM
Tony91 wrote:
All of the Tori Richard shirts I have are labeled "Made in Hawaii, USA of imported fabric" There are probably no textile mills in Hawaii. I've been to one in China, they are massive and take up city blocks. Tori Richard appears to be following FTC labeling laws on country of origin. The shirts are indeed Made in USA, Hawaii although some such as silk are not. I have never seen a made in use silk garment.
on November 14,2011 | 10:06AM
orion595 wrote:
How incredibly important is this as an issue to get riled about? And if you are willing to withhold your vote over this, then the real issues must not be important. Giving the other leaders a choice and respect for their sensitivities is more important than a fashion statement. If I had to wear some of the stuff that these leaders had to wear in the past in a formal setting, I wouldn't be comfortable. Respect and tolerance for others, as long as they do not impose on us, is what Hawaii is all about. This is truly "pono".
on November 14,2011 | 08:17AM
LanaUlulani wrote:
Exactly. Refusing to wear an aloha shirt shows DISRESPECT to local people who VALUE aloha shirts. Instead President Obama shows his elitist attitude towards the people just as he did with his failed policies like TARP2, Quantitative Easing 2, and Quantitative Easing 3 all which are disrespectful to the American PEOPLE. I am glad that many people will not vote for him again. They finally woke up from the Fog.
on November 14,2011 | 08:35PM
Peacenik wrote:
Should have more than one color and design to choose from and let public choose. Also let Reyn and others compete. Sometimes same patterns can be done in different color combinations. Let WL choose their own color. .
on November 14,2011 | 08:27AM
Tony91 wrote:
How do you know Reyn's and other's did not compete?
on November 14,2011 | 10:07AM
Peacenik wrote:
Didn't you read the article? Another candidate should have been Manuhealii, whose prints reflects more Hawaiiana.
on November 14,2011 | 10:14PM
bully106 wrote:
another wrong decision by the prez.... embarrassing! he's really getting boring. those leaders all looked ridiculous, stuffy, and out of place against the beautiful backdrop of the blue skies and blue pacific ocean, and swaying palm trees. and no lei? no one told him about today's BUSINESS aloha attire? why didn't they just host it on the mainland and save us all a lot of grief, inconvenience, and time! i'm not going to vote for him this time. and is he the boss of APEC to determine if the traditional dress photo will be terminated? how arrogant of him. this makes me real mad!
on November 14,2011 | 08:32AM
burke wrote:
Couldn't they have at least worn a lei? That also defines us as Hawaii.
on November 14,2011 | 08:33AM
KekoaBradshaw wrote:
Good point. Lei have been around forever; aloha shirts date only friom the 1930's (as another poster pointed out in thisnthread).
on November 14,2011 | 12:50PM
alikarx03 wrote:
The dignitaries here for APEC were not here for a vacation. It was a business meeting. I have no problem with them wearing suits. Plus APEC 2011 was in Hawaii, but it was a United States of America hosted event, not a Hawaiian event.
on November 14,2011 | 08:49AM
Buido wrote:
Then why take them all the way out to Ko Olina ??? The business meetings ALL could have been held in town !!!
on November 14,2011 | 12:01PM
9ronboz wrote:
All business I suppose.
on November 14,2011 | 09:24AM
kei wrote:
Bad decision...It's not "frivolous" to honor local customs. You really have forgotten what life is like here. You blew it Obama.
on November 14,2011 | 09:30AM
myop wrote:
I think the Prez made the right choice! The background showed the "beautiful day in Hawaii Nei" and none of of past pix can how that! :)
on November 14,2011 | 10:02AM
Tony91 wrote:
Civil Beat and Tori Richards Facebook page both point out no taxpayer dollars were used for the shirts.
on November 14,2011 | 10:08AM
ManoaHi wrote:
I agree that they should have given/worn an aloha shirt. But keep in mind as well, why and how they were created in the first place. Take a look at how the locals dressed before the arrival of Japanese immigrants over 100 years ago, so you have to look further back. The aloha shirt was created by Japanese women who cut up their kimonos to make shirts and other clothing after immigrating to the US. No, they didn't have the floral patterns, they had traditional Japanese designs and the tropical designs came later. In many places in the world, aloha shirts are seen as either casual or inappropriate attire for non-beach party wear. A couple of us wore aloha shirts on casual Fridays when we lived in Japan. We got all kinds of grief for it and the company changed their policy to ban aloha shirts, but it was ok to wear Polo type shirts. Get it? Polo shirts are seen as casual Friday business attire but aloha shirts are not.
on November 14,2011 | 10:11AM
Tony91 wrote:
I think that is exactly why the shirts should have been worn and they were given to the leaders. The aloha shirt is not just about Hawaii, it is about the different cultures that settled here and influenced the development of the shirt. APEC's mission about cooperation between Pacific nations was the perfect venue for one to be worn instead of those nooses the leaders wore around their necks.
on November 14,2011 | 10:25AM
cojef wrote:
APEC is al shibai anyway, so who give a hoot what they wore for their formal picture in 2011 in Aloha Land. It would have been nice geature if they all did adopt the HAwaiian wear, but these hot-shot elitist can be a snotty bunch. Tori Richards probably had to donate their service (won't get paid) in order to get the publicity or advertising, be it acknowledgement for the designed gifts to the 21, 19 attendees. Thailand and Mexico were non=attendees, because natural disaster and plane crash emergency in their respective countries. Putting all negatives aside, hope each attendee got a better insight of our Hawaiian culture and leave with smile on their faces..
on November 14,2011 | 11:09AM
cojef wrote:
Hey! maybe it's Barry way of getting back at Neil for not greeting them at the airport with lei for ech the 1st Lady and the Prez. You don't like to play ball, and we won't play your game, and not wear the Aloha shirts. Whew, if it is so-- childish eh!
on November 14,2011 | 11:17AM
KekoaBradshaw wrote:
You actually think this? Get real!
on November 14,2011 | 12:37PM
KekoaBradshaw wrote:
You actually think this? Get real!
on November 14,2011 | 12:37PM
sunnyhi wrote:
I'm ok with the aloha shirt not being worn in the photo because the way I look at it, it was the USA's turn to host the APEC. Obama chose Hawaii because we're smack dab in the middle of the Pacific but the aloha shirt doesn't represent ALL of the United States. It wasn't HAWAII's turn to host APEC, it was the USA's turn. So, I think the aloha shirt was a great souvenir for the world leaders to take home but not a necessity that they wear it. If they did, that would have been great for us but how selfish to complain after the exposure and opportunities we received from being chosen to play host. I think the palm trees, sunny skies, and ocean as the backdrop for the group photo was the best choice of 'attire' overall.
on November 14,2011 | 11:13AM
darinmy29 wrote:
I echo the above comment. All the leaders will take home the shirt as a gift, but more important to the picture was the backdrop. THAT'S Hawaii! Hawaii will benefit from the video postcards being shown all across the world during the past few days. What they wear is irrelevant and we must consider the group consensus. President Obama did not dictate what they all wore and the image of them wearing matching aloha shirts would not have been a good sight. Please vote for our next President with bigger consideration than what he selected to wear to a dinner. Geez....
on November 14,2011 | 11:42AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Most of the ones whining about it weren't going to vote for him anyway.
on November 14,2011 | 11:57AM
steveoctober wrote:
Problem is, the backdrop could be anywhere else in the world. In fact, it could be Phuket, Thailand, a popular destination for Asian nationals to go for vacation because it's far cheaper and more engaging. Sad, but this group photo cannot even be used by the HVB because it has no identity to it. They could have at least used some brains by having the backdrop to be Diamond Head, an internationally known figure, instead of Heleakala (yea, that's the name - I bet 99% of "locals" are going "Huh? Haleakala is on Maui!").
on November 14,2011 | 11:43AM
KekoaBradshaw wrote:
This is one of the very few posts in this thread that MAKES SENSE. All of you Obama-bashers obviously didn't read the article. The APEC leaders didn't wear "native dress" last year when APEC was held in Japan, so this is the second year they've worn "business attire" for the group photo. It's NOT an insult to Hawaii any more than the decision last year was an insult to Japan. And when leaders decided not to wear aloha attire for the photo, what was the president supposed to do---threaten to declare war on them if they didn't wear an aloha shirt? Get real, people.
on November 14,2011 | 12:07PM
Tony91 wrote:
The leaders did not decide to wear the shirt, the President made the call. Even the President of Chile asked where the shirts went. Apparently he liked it and found it the least offensive out of all of the other leader's garb from prior APEC events. If. You read the other stories, you can see the president decided to end the traction. They could have worn their jackets over the shirt or at least a lei.
on November 14,2011 | 12:35PM
KekoaBradshaw wrote:
Much ado about NOTHING!
on November 14,2011 | 12:39PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Was this yet another waste of taxpayer dollars?
on November 14,2011 | 12:27PM
Tony91 wrote:
Nope, the shirts cost taxpayers nothing. They were a gift from Tori Richard apparently. I feel bad for that company though, the white house asked them to go through all the effort, have them made and then not wear them?
on November 14,2011 | 12:37PM
FrankGenadio wrote:
Does anyone want to bet on where the Obama presidential library construction will start in 2013? I'm betting on a suburb of Chicago.
on November 14,2011 | 01:13PM
KekoaBradshaw wrote:
I'm betting right next to Kapiolani Hospital, where President Obama was born (take THAT, you "birthers" lol).
on November 14,2011 | 02:42PM
tiki886 wrote:
Or right next to Al Capone's vault.
on November 14,2011 | 02:56PM
Tony91 wrote:
Of course it will be Chicago! That is where his political career and connections started. It would be great for Hawaii if it were here, but it is extremely unlikely.
on November 14,2011 | 04:43PM
Ambergris23 wrote:
Whaaaat? No aloha shirts? Can't contribute $50 to Hawaii's garment industry, after forcing delays and other problems for Hawaii's population. The shirts would have been good advertising and boosted sales, if they had chosen to wear them.
on November 14,2011 | 04:04PM
Tora wrote:
Just shows his true colors. If he"s a local boy as he claims he would cherish our local traditions. He insulted Hawaii and all the other APEC countries who displayed their traditional garb at previous meetings. He should have worn aloha shirts the entire time he was here. That would have shown he really is a local boy.
on November 14,2011 | 06:36PM
ippikiokami wrote:
I wear aloha shirts everyday for work, Tori Richards, and I agree that it is not attire for heads of states to wear for a prestigious photo opportunity. At semi formal events, businessmen will wear an aloha shirt, tucked in, with a coat or blazer, and that is not it too. Years ago, there use to be a manufacturer that made long sleeve aloha shirts that was worn not tucked in, similar in style to the formal shirt worn in the Philippines. Perhaps this is an opportunity for a designer to create a formal or semi formal aloha shirt that will be fitting for heads of states to wear for a prestigious photo opportunity.
on November 14,2011 | 08:06PM
High_Society wrote:
Problem is that The White House approved of the design. Had they properly provided the specifications of the garment, then we wouldn't have this problem. I imagine that the aloha shirts must have cost a lot of money. I wouldn't be surprised if a Tori Richard's insider was a friend or relative of obama.
on November 14,2011 | 08:28PM
jaluasa wrote:
Yup, when I go to work in my Aloha shirt and dress pants everyday, I only go to fool around....
on November 14,2011 | 08:43PM
Peacenik wrote:
haha,like.
on November 14,2011 | 10:06PM
from_da_cheapseats wrote:
The SB missed the obvious. Go to: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/18075/economic-crisis-literally-costs-apec-leaders-their-shirts
on November 14,2011 | 09:12PM
foliefolie wrote:
What's the big deal? They were here for business....... they were not here on vacation. What.............did you want the Australian Prime Minister to wear a muumuu? Many top business leaders in Hawaii wear Aloha shirts, but do you see top business women in Hawaii wearing muumuus or Aloha print blouses? No, you don't. Are you going to say that those female business executives are snobs and culturally insensitive? No, you wouldn't. And for those of you who say you are not going to vote for Obama or he lost your vote...............gimme a break! There are way more important issues to consider who you vote for and elect into office. And haven't you all read about how the Hawaii Convention Center has a sometimes difficult time convincing mainland companies to host their conventions here because they don't take Hawaii seriously. All the sunny skies and palm trees give the impression that we are all fun and games. I APPLAUD the APEC leaders of the world for wearing their business suits. It was the appropriate thing to do. The ocean backdrop was good enough to remind everyone where they were.
on November 14,2011 | 09:53PM
51butterflies wrote:
I, too, was taken aback that Obama did not take the lead and show his true aloha for the state he was born and raised in. Wearing the Aloha Shirt IS the business attire for our region. When one looks back at the photo, it won't even look like the meeting was held in Hawaii. Big disappointment in Obama just bragging about being a local from Hawaii ,and not even taking the lead to wear what is Hawaii. Hawaii is the USA and wearing the Aloha Shirt is unique. That's an insult to suggest that the Aloha Shirt would indicate that these APEC leaders were vacationing, not working. It's also an insult, to be given a gift and not wear it. I doubt if any of these leaders will have an opportunity to wear it. Very insensitive to the people who spent time and effort into making these shirts. The material and design would have been better spent on the public. Why couldn't there have been two photo shots taken, one in Aloha Shirts, and the one in suits. The people of Hawaii, Oahu in particular, experienced so many inconveniences with this APEC meeting, it is very discouraging that a Hawaii born/raised US President, didn't take the leadership and show pride in and appreciation of Hawaii's hospitality by wearing the unique ALOHA shirt given as a gift. Hawaii's people will not forget this. AWEH!
on November 15,2011 | 12:53AM
oktink wrote:
I'm ok as long as the shirts were paid for and we got the income. Hey, if TR sold the shirts through Costco I would buy at least two shirts. Would make great Xmas gifts!
on November 19,2011 | 07:17AM
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