Get Out Your Grass Skirts, Obama Says: APEC Goes Hawaiian in 2011

By Jaketapper

Nov 14, 2009 11:38pm

From Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller

SINGAPORE — Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic (APEC) summit today in Singapore, President Obama will announce that in 2011 he will host the annual forum in Hawaii in 2011.

“When America hosts APEC in a few years, I look forward to seeing you all decked out in flowered shirts and grass skirts,” Obama will say according to prepared remarks, “because today I’m announcing that we are bringing this forum to my home state of Hawaii in 2011.”

The images seen last night from Singapore of President Obama and other world leaders clad in long-sleeved linen shirts is a tradition of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that dates back to 1993, when attendees at the APEC conference in Seattle donned leather bomber jackets.

This year's outfit is a specially-designed Peranakan-inspired blouse with a mandarin collar, a mélange of Chinese, Indian, and Malay styles befitting Singapore and designed by local style guru Wykidd Song. The shirts come in blue, green, and red. Female world leaders, such as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines, have silk embroidered V-necked blouses with lace.

On the 20th anniversary of the summit, Mr. Obama today will note that tradition, started on the first year by former President Bill Clinton.

“The United States was there at the first meeting of APEC leaders on Blake Island, where President Clinton began the interesting tradition of having us wear outfits picked out by the host nation,” Obama will say, “Since then, posing for annual "class picture" wearing the native garb of the host country has been a tradition that distinguishes the APEC conference from all other international summits.”

Next year’s summit will be held in Japan.

-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller


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