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No aloha for Hawaiian shirts at APEC family photo

By Dan Nakaso and B.J. Reyes

Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:


There were no “silly shirts” for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit’s “silly shirt photo” this afternoon — just 20 APEC leaders and representatives in dark suits and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a white jacket.

The leaders and representatives from 21 APEC countries posed for what is officially known as the “APEC Leaders’ Family Photo” while standing behind a horizontal blue APEC 2011 sign that said, “APEC USA 2011. … Leaders Week Honolulu, Hawai’i.”

They stood in front of a grove of nine palm trees at the Ko Olina resort, about 50 yards from the ocean along the Leeward Coast of Oahu.

The wind played havoc for the nearly 100 news photographers trying to capture the moment when all of the APEC leaders either waived or stood still at the same moment.

At one point, Gillard swiped at her hair and made an undecipherable comment. Obama then gestured toward his own head of hair and said, “Me, too,” to laughter from the other APEC dignitaries.

A conversation between Obama and Gillard could be overheard with talk of grass skirts and coconut bras before Chilean President Sebastian Pinera Echenique asked, "Where are the Hawaiian shirts?"

Obama replied: "We are ending that tradition."

There had been some speculation that the aloha shirts were scrapped to avoid the appearance of world leaders acting frivolous during a time of economic austerity. Asked about the decision, Obama said leaders were given an aloha 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 complains about us breaking precedent on that one."

He said he had looked at past family photos, "and some of the garb that had appeared previously, and I thought: this may be a tradition that we might want to break."

Honolulu clothing company Tori Richard, Ltd., designed both the APEC shirts worn by organizers and volunteers and a special APEC-themed shirt for the 21 world leaders, said Josh Feldman, company president and chief executive officer. Feldman said Tori Richard was contacted directly by the White House earlier this year and commissioned to design the shirt.

"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."

Since President Bill Clinton began these yearly summits in 1993, APEC chiefs have donned local garb for their official photo — except for last year, when Japan hosted APEC in Yokohama.

The subject of whether the leaders would wear the colorful island-print “aloha shirts” was a hot topic as the summit drew toward today’s group photo.

Obama hinted the previous night that he would not hold them to a promise he made two years ago. At a cultural dinner Saturday night, Obama recalled the 2009 APEC meetings in Singapore, when Hawaii was awarded this year’s conference.

“I promised that you would all have to wear aloha shirts or grass skirts,” Obama said to some laughs.

He hinted that leaders were given aloha shirts, but he was not going to force them to wear them for the photo.

“I was persuaded by our team to perhaps break tradition, so we have not required you to wear your aloha shirts, although I understand a few of you have tried them on for size and we may yet see you in them in the next several days,” he said.

Organizers and volunteers working the conference have been easily recognizable throughout the conference wearing blue shirts featuring a print that includes the APEC logo and flowers representing each of the nation’s economies.






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steveoctober wrote:
Nice to see Obama once again fail and lie to the taxpaying public. Why are we paying for this guy to host a party when he gets nothing accomplished?
on November 13,2011 | 02:43PM
Kailua213 wrote:
He cleaned up what Bush left behind. Smart in bringing revenue to his homeland. I don't know what your talking about here buddy. Aloha.
on November 13,2011 | 03:27PM
HD36 wrote:
Yea that's why he's increased the budget deficit more than all the other presidents combined. We need John Mizuno, a real suit kind of guy.
on November 13,2011 | 07:21PM
shshimizu wrote:
The whiners and complainers tend to be the least informed.
on November 13,2011 | 04:04PM
Kauikalewa wrote:
Mahalo, Mr. President. Transparency is not an expectation. Making time to speak to us this evening was as always, your intuition about Hawai`i. Your stance and humility speak to you genuine care for the responsibility of World Leadership. Who understands the networks of universal economics and trade systems? So much of it is hidden in clandestine arrangements. The issue of intellectual security and protections is incomprehensible because the genius of it is still invisible, undefined, unimagined. Still the threat of unconscionable pirating of inventions is without consequences. It is the most vulnerable facet of trade and economics. Glad to have you home. Maybe next time you would have more fun in an "S". Who would even know you were hiding in plain sight? A hui hou. E ola mau. Jesu pu.
on November 13,2011 | 05:52PM
Jason_Sands wrote:
Who cares what they wore? Did they accomplish anything?
on November 13,2011 | 03:14PM
Library1 wrote:
For those saying that Obama "gets nothing accomplished," that kind of comment only shows how unaware you are of what has happened politically for the past two and a half years. President Obama has accomplished and initiated more real change to improve the lives of the middle class than any other president in recent history. Just some of the more noteworthy accomplishments/initiatives include: healthcare reform that benefits average citizens (NOT the insurers); wall street reform; greatest push for clean energy; appointment of a real scientist to head the Dept of Energy to try to solve the nation's energy problems; stimulus that saved us from catastrophic recession; repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell; Hate Crimes Legislation (M. Shephard); Lily Ledbedder Fair Pay Act; largest consumer protection policies ever passed (to protect the credit card companies from cheating average citizen); saved the american auto industry (which is has already or is current repaying their debt with interest!); race to the top educational reform with excellently recognized national common core standards... etc., etc.
on November 13,2011 | 03:37PM
JPM wrote:
Solyandra, unemployment, record poverty, a bailout of Wall Street, record food stamps, unlimited companies exempt from his health care reform, bank fees (as a result of consumer protection), etc. disagree with everything you posted. You still have faith, and no one can take that away from you.
on November 13,2011 | 04:18PM
tigerwarrior wrote:
Agreed JPM. I bottom-line action--not rhetoric.
on November 13,2011 | 04:58PM
LanaUlulani wrote:
Another Obama Nut Case. Obama-itis is a MENTAL DISORDER. Under Obama a record high 45,100,000 Americans are on FOOD STAMPS which means they go HUNGRY while waiting for their next allotment of FOOD to EAT. In addition under Obama's leadership TARP2, Quantitative Easing 1, and Quantitative Easing 2 have further devalueD the American dollar wreaking havoc on people especially on WOMEN and CHILDREN who have less purchasing power thus less FOOD to buy and to put in their BABIES MOUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
on November 13,2011 | 08:18PM
LanaUlulani wrote:
Obama-itis is a MENTAL DISORDER. Under Obama a record high 45,100,000 Americans are on FOOD STAMPS which means they go HUNGRY while waiting for their next allotment of FOOD to EAT. In addition under Obama's leadership TARP2, Quantitative Easing 1, and Quantitative Easing 2 have further devalueD the American dollar wreaking havoc on people especially on WOMEN and CHILDREN who have less purchasing power thus less FOOD to buy and to put in their BABIES MOUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
on November 13,2011 | 08:20PM
dchonghawaii wrote:
No leis were given to the 21 Head of States when they arrived, and now no Aloha Shirts...APEC really showed the world that they were in Hawaii.
on November 13,2011 | 03:43PM
KeithHaugen wrote:
They weren't in OUR Hawai`i. I hope when they meet again in some other exotic land, Obama refuses to don the traditional garb.
on November 13,2011 | 05:50PM
waikiicapt wrote:
They were in Obama's Hawaii...
on November 13,2011 | 07:53PM
shshimizu wrote:
The decision of lei presentation is up to the delegation and no one else. The protocol is of the countries not the host. Each head of state was given an Aloha shirt, it was their decision whether to wear it.
on November 14,2011 | 12:06AM
AniMatsuri wrote:
Considering that Obama never wears an aloha shirt when he vacations here this is no surprise. I get the feeling he doesn't like them to begin with. Has anyone ever seem him in one in the past 10 years?
on November 13,2011 | 04:03PM
shshimizu wrote:
The whiner and complainers are usually the ones that are uninformed.
on November 13,2011 | 04:07PM
JPM wrote:
What a fan club. This entire debacle just cost the islands $135 million and he couldn't even get them to respect the local culture. That is really sad, and proves who is uninformed. He will be running for a second term and people still blame Bush. What a statement about the people supporting him.
on November 13,2011 | 04:24PM
ya_think wrote:
JPM that's because he dosen't respect the loal culture heck he dosen't even respect the American culture. He's a one and done. Thank God, yes lib's that's THANK GOD.......
on November 13,2011 | 04:59PM
syhud wrote:
Wearing aloha wear would really show their gratitude to Hawaii in hosting this summit.
on November 13,2011 | 05:18PM
KeithHaugen wrote:
Yes... maybe they didn't want to show gratitude.
on November 13,2011 | 05:51PM
KeithHaugen wrote:
Yes... maybe they didn't want to show gratitude.
on November 13,2011 | 05:51PM
Kauikalewa wrote:
You guys are so crazy. Where do you think those shirts are designed, screened and sewed? Kaka`ako? Not. China, Thailand, Vietnam most likely. Aloha shirts would have said to the world, "Politicians on holiday in Hawai`i". Just what the world didn't need and Hawai`i needs to be taken seriously as a "player" in the international scene. The "Wonderland Twins" just didn't get it and went on "over the top" drama. Next time cool heads and low key is how we play it.
on November 13,2011 | 08:12PM
Aloha wrote:
Honolulu clothing company Tori Richard, Ltd., designed both the APEC shirts worn by organizers and volunteers and a special APEC-themed shirt for the 21 world leaders, said Josh Feldman, company president and chief executive officer. Feldman said Tori Richard was contacted directly by the White House earlier this year and commissioned to design the shirt. Guess they were just special souvenirs.
on November 13,2011 | 08:20PM
LanaUlulani wrote:
Because LOCAL people WEAR ALOHA WEAR and to show GRATITUDE AND/OR RESPECT FOR THE LOCAL CULTURES (plural) you don the LOCAL WEAR, DUMMY.
on November 13,2011 | 08:22PM
bpbp wrote:
Library1, are you really better off now than you were 2.5 years ago? Courts are judging that Obamacare is illegal. Plus, Obama has destroyed America's balance sheet through promises that were never delivered (ie, stimulus package for more jobs). Don't blame Bush now as most Obamaphiles do, as he's been gone for a while. Also, Obama cost the taxpayer billions of dollars bailing out the auto industry. The break even on GM stock for the taxpayer is above $50 per share. It's now trading at $22.50. How many shares do you own, or do you just talk a big game? FYI, The financials were bailed out, sure, but did you realize that the US taxpayer made literally BILLIONS on that bailout (I think $30 billion last I checked)? Yes, the lent money has been repaid, and US taxpayers made billions!
on November 13,2011 | 05:22PM
KeithHaugen wrote:
"silly shirts?" I guess they're better than us... not smarter mind you. Any man who gets up in the morning and the first thing he does is tie a noose around his neck, is suspect.
on November 13,2011 | 05:49PM
KeithHaugen wrote:
Look at the picture and how silly they look. LOL
on November 13,2011 | 05:52PM
Aloha wrote:
So little respect - the aloha shirt isn't a "silly shirt" or costume and wearing one wouldn't "give the appearance of world leaders acting frivolous". The $3000 tailored suits are the frivolous costumes. "...if they wanted to wear the shirt I promise you it would've been fine. But I didn't hear a lot of complains about us breaking precedent on that one." He said he had looked at past family photos, "and some of the garb that had appeared previously, and I thought: this may be a tradition that we might want to break." Here's the previous APEC pictures: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/multimedia/apec1110/index. I'm not even going to begin commenting on APEC traffic problems which aren't over yet - they just moved around and are coming back.
on November 13,2011 | 05:54PM
pastormatt wrote:
How much did we spend on the special Aloha APEC shirts? Abercrombie was all over the news modeling them, and now it seems like they weren't accepted or worn. Seems like all of that preparation by the Gov was just a waste of time. At least he had fun and got PR at our expense.
on November 13,2011 | 06:07PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Yah, Neil practiced a thousand times: "Hi my name is Neil. What is yours? Nancy. Uh, Nancy. I uh. Uh. Oh. Oh wait I need to go to my next class.". LOL Neil chickened out when he wanted to ask Nancy out. LOL. Just as now, Neil boy u chickened out on ASKING the dignitaries to wear Aloha Shirts. What? No Aloha Shirts No Problem. Macy's has them. We could stimulate of local economy by purchasing Aloha Shirts for the dignitaries and NEIL YOU MISSED OUT ON YOUR GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY TO SIMPLY ASK !!
on November 13,2011 | 09:42PM
LanaUlulani wrote:
In other words elitists of APEC disrespect the HOST cultures. Plural and donned typical present-day symbols of imperialism and colonization: Blue suits. Very very tacky considering that Obama purports to be from Hawai'i. How he going do local people lidat. Aue. Obama ack like he beddah den local people. Shame shame shame!
on November 13,2011 | 06:42PM
Mulepower wrote:
Aloha shirts represent Hawaii. Obama was representing the United States as a whole.
on November 13,2011 | 07:19PM
HD36 wrote:
He represents himself;. he always did.
on November 13,2011 | 07:40PM
SteveToo wrote:
WHAT BARRY, ashamed of Hawaiian traditions. You JUNK!
on November 13,2011 | 07:54PM
aiea7 wrote:
You complainers are missing the point - Obama is not necessarily against the wearing of Aloha shirts - take a look at the past two APEC conferences of the photo shoot where they were wearing the gard of the host country. Boy was it bad looking and Obama did not want to continue that tradition, not that the people would look bad in aloha shirts but for the future. YOu must admit those prior two years pictures were funny looking, unbecoming of their status.
on November 13,2011 | 08:04PM
smith2650 wrote:
Just got out of a traffic jam and discovered that while Hawaii gave ALOHA to the APEC folks our president does not give it back! The very LEAST they could have done was to wear an Aloha shirt. Obama has no more Aloha than a wet towell.
on November 13,2011 | 08:39PM
AtomicMonkey wrote:
Hey standing in the sun with a dark monkey suit on is "silly" if you ask me.
on November 13,2011 | 08:58PM
MKZhawaii wrote:
This decision from a someone who calls Hawaii "home" is shameful. If this slap in the face was made by someone unfamiliar with local customs we would be upset, but would understand their lack of respect. But to have Obama turn away from the precedent of wearing local attire of the host city. Obama said that he saw "some of the garb that had appeared previously, and I thought: this may be a tradition that we might want to break"...that is simply outraegeous. He could have given Hawaii a huge boost by having pictures of world leaders around the world wear aloha shirts and "sell" Hawaii, but turned his back on us. You can wear aloha shirts and be here for business. How could he make that decision? He lost all the goodwill he had from so many kaamaina. I am sure there will be additional outrage.
on November 13,2011 | 09:07PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
BOOK 'EM DANNO !! The original McGarrett was THE MAN. In coats and ties. Of course that original Steve would don the occasional Aloha Shirt !! We always do not like to talk about a person, however, an interesting thought occured to me : maybe OBAMA bin BARACK does NOT have ANY Aloha Shirts AT ALL. I like the flashy $100 Kahala Brand that i love myself LOL.
on November 13,2011 | 09:34PM
opalaedo wrote:
It's work and not a vacation with aloha wear and mai tais. Get real, people! By the way, I never wear aloha shirts too. And I am local through and through.
on November 13,2011 | 10:00PM
Tarakian wrote:
He wanted no leis when he arrived, as is customary and no aloha shirts, as is it is a tradition in our Aloha State! It is like going over to grandma's house for Thanksgiving and telling her that after all these years of eating her traditional pumpkin pie. No I'm not going to eat it because it may give the wrong idea to my date that I am over-indulging! My My! I feel he would of been better respected if he receive our leis and wear our aloha shirts. It would of showed he has "roots" and pride in our islands! But no, this just shows that he is a "son of the islands" when it is convenient...like winning another presidential term by appearing to be all business and not here on a vacation. I hope I'm not the only one that can see through this facade!
on November 13,2011 | 10:20PM
false wrote:
Aloha is infectious and pervasive... They will get it... whether they want to or not. Many of the commentors to this article obviously do not have Aloha, have never served America, and have no clue of or pride in American citizenship... a symptom of a disease that requires an antidote... my antidote would be to require military service from all Americans in order to learn to serve, honor, and value our country and citizenship in it.
on November 13,2011 | 10:22PM
LanaUlulani wrote:
You can start with President Obama. Have him serve in the military so that HE can learn to SERVE, HONOR, and value our country, citizenship, and the U.S. CONSTITUTION and its AMENDMENTS.
on November 13,2011 | 10:36PM
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