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Profile of Alfred Shaheen

Hawaii garment industry pioneer Alfred Shaheen designed, printed, and produced men's aloha shirts and women's tropical print dresses in post World War II Hawaii. He specialized in designing and printing his own fabrics and his designs were unique at the time because they featured subtle colors and prints then most of the tropical clothing being sold in Hawaii during the post-war Hawaii tourism boom. He also raised the level of Hawaiian style ready-to-wear clothing by using high quality materials and quality construction techniques, and by hiring a staff of artists to create unique designs.

Facts About Alfred Shaheen
-Date of Birth: January 31, 1922
-Birth Place: New jersey
-Date of Death: December 22, 2008
-His family was in the textile business in New Jersey and in Compton California before they finally settled in Honolulu in 1938.
-He graduated from Whittier College in Southern California in 1943.
-Was a fighter pilot for the Army Air Force during World War II. Hew flew over Europe.
-His parents had a custom dress shop in Honolulu but he wanted to branch out into ready-to-wear, so he started his own business and brand, "Shaheen's of Honolulu", in 1948.
-In 1952 he opened a silk screening plant using equipment he built himself, and he put a group of artists on salary to design unique patterns inspired by Polynesian and Asian cultures. He sometimes sent his designers to exotic locations in Asia and the Pacific to soak up local culture and get inspired to create new designs. His focus was on original designs that were not bright or garish like so many of the Hawaii style fabrics that were common at the time.
-In 1956 he built a new, 23,000 square foot, state-of-the-art factory and by 1959 he employed 400 workers and grossed more then $4 million a year.
-He had a seven-store chain of ready-to-wear shops that sold men's shirts and women's dresses and sarongs, and he also sold his clothing to shops and department stores all over the world.
-In 1988 he shut down his factory and retired to his homes in Honolulu and Los Angeles. He lived the last five years of his life in Torrance, Southern California.
-On July 6, 2001 he received the Ka Ahu Noeau Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sate of Hawaii.
-In 2006 the Honolulu Advertiser named him one of the 150 most influential people, events, and institutions to impact social, economic, political, and cultural changes in Hawaii from 1856 to the present
-Alfred Shaheen died at the age of 86 on December 22, 2008 of diabetes complications . At the time of his death he had been living in Torrance, California for about five years.

Alfred Shaheen Articles and Web Sites
- AlfredShaheen.com
- Alfred Shaheen's "Surf and Sand" Label
- Official History of Alfred Shaheen
- Hawaii's 150 Most Influential: Alfred Shaheen (Honolulu Advertiser)
- Paradise of the Pacific Commemorative Issue (PDF)
- Alfred Shaheen, Giant of Garment Industry, Dies (Honolulu Advertiser)
- Alfred Shaheen, Garment Industry Pioneer Dies (LA Times)
- Alfred Shaheen Clothing Available on eBay

See Also
- Clothing Manufacturers
- Fashion Designers
- Hawaiian Shirts
- Aloha Shirt History

Related Links
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Islands of Hawaii
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