Standard attire for embracing the tiki lifestyle for guys is an aloha shirt. But another common item is the fez. Why is that? Is a fez “Tiki”? Let’s find out…
The fez is named after the Moroccan city of Fez. It is part of the traditional clothing of Cyprus, which is in the Middle East. The Middle East is as far away from Polynesia geographically and culturally as you can get!
So why are there men sipping Mai-Tai’s wearing a fez and an aloha shirt?
Americans have always been fascinated with any “exotic”. Before air travel became common, places like the Orient, the Middle East and Hawaii were places the average person would never get to see in person. The fact that everything about these exotic locations were so drastically different from what we knew here in the US made the allure that much greater. Martin Denny’s Exotica album pulls influences from all these exotic locations not just tropical islands in the South Pacific.
Many fraternal organizations like the Shriners adopted or borrowed some the iconography from the Middle East. Along with having temples the Shriners borrowed the fez as standard attire for its members.
Men’s fraternal organizations are still around but they were huge back in the 50’s and 60’s. This was the same time that Tiki was popular as well. For many people their love of Tiki stems from their love of mid-century. You will always find a fez for sale at an antique store and it is truly a piece of Americana.
Another subculture to adopt the fez as part of their attire… surf bands!
Retro culture became popular back in the early 90’s. There was a renewed interest in swing dancing, lounge and surf. Want your band to look cool, uniform and retro? Just have everyone wear a fez!
So, technically a fez isn’t tiki. It has nothing to do with Polynesia or Hawaii but let’s be honest, guys don’t have too many options when it comes to tiki fashion and some of us are bald! What’s a better accessory than a fez!
Looking to buy your own fez? Click here.