As I rifle through the hundreds of shirts in the Honolulu Goodwill, my fingers pass a lot of fabric. I normally wouldn’t pause on a simple t-shirt, but this one felt different. This one felt special. I pulled it out and looked at the writing on the front and it took me a second to figure out what the words read. “UNCO NDIT IONA LOHA”. Ah! “UnconditionAloha”! 

I had been here for two weeks and had been looking for a t-shirt to bring back with me to Boston, but most of the ones I had found at trendier boutiques had been too expensive to even consider buying. Seeing as this one was only $4, I knew I had to buy it. 

It was only after getting home and pulling off the tags that I saw the writing on the inside of the back. It read:

Project Aloha. Made in U.S.A.

This T-shirt is made with

A blend of Cotton & Polyester,

But on rare occasions, there is

Rayon in the mix. That being said,

wear this shirt until it stinks.

Wash in cold, shark-infested waters.

Throw it in the dryer, tumble on low,

Hang dry if you have to. Please

don’t iron the graphic, unless you plan 

On destroying it on purpose. Most importantly,

“Aloha, pass it on.” 

That is the coolest tag ever. Not only does it ingeniously eliminate itchy tags on the top or side of shirts, but the writing is also witty, to the point, and human. I immediately wanted to go find out more about the company. 

Turns out, the project was started in 2011 by this guy, Michael Paz (”Pazzy”). He was the founder of NSU North Shore Underground/Hawaiianbuilt.  He has held the title of Senior Graphic Designer at American Eagle Outfitters and the Art Director at companies such as Gotcha/MCD, North Shore Underground and most recently Hollister Co. Since moving to the Midwest from Hawaii, Pazzy put his love for the state together with his graphic design background. He says that: “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to move back to the islands but I can reconnect somehow through art. Hawaii has always been very inspiring to me and I hope that it shows in these designs.” Pazzy decided to post a new graphic design everyday on social media. The posts with the most likes would be made into t-shirts and then he started to sell those shirts. It’s an easy and simple way to engage your audience in the project while also sending a message that no one would disagree with. 

Furthermore, he makes sure to note on the website how to correctly pronounce the name: “I’d like to think that the correct pronunciation of PROJECT in Project Aloha is not like you’d say science ‘project’. It is definitely like if one is to project kindness, or simply Project Aloha.”

Aloha, a greeting, here simply encourages the consumers to Interact with the people around them, be nice, be chill, and embrace the vibes around us. Project Aloha. Be open and loving. 

According to the Project Aloha website, a t-shirt costs about $30. I definitely would never have bought this shirt normally, but seeing as I found it second hand for much cheaper, I got lucky. While I don’t know the story of the person who owned it before me, I feel that they took the advice to heart and “Passed It On”. I felt part of some secretive community. I feel a little happier when I wear this shirt. Whether that’s because it’s so soft, or because that’s evidence of the emotional response that wearable advertising can have, I know that the feeling of being part of something larger than yourself is powerful. Whenever I am done with this shirt I will take it to a thrift store as well so that some other person can reap the benefits of the collective and shared aloha. 

Where I got the info: