GINGHAM FABRIC, A CHEQUERED HISTORY OF THE CLASSIC CLOTH
From Dorothy’s blue gingham dress from the Wizard of Oz film to 1960’s MOD’s to classic vintage styling, gingham checked fabric is a classic fashion staple and this is why we selected it for our Merino Shirts.
WHAT IS GINGHAM?
Gingham is a type of simple, woven fabric, typically Cotton but in our case, superfine Merino Wool. Originally it had a regular and brightly coloured stripe but later appeared as a much simpler and muted check pattern.
The colours are commonly blue or red stripes with a white background or red. The scale of the check varies from small to large. The most classic colour is blue on white and this is what we have selected for our shirts.
THE HISTORY OF GINGHAM
The history behind the origin of gingham is as chequered as the fabric itself. Many countries claim gingham fabric to be a staple of their own textile history and culture. Its widespread use throughout the world is due to it being inexpensive to produce and is a simple pattern to produce. It’s also a classic check that is easy to sell and has a very wide appeal.
The origin of the word is interesting since the fabric was manufactured in Dutch-colonised Malaysia and Indonesia. It was exported to Europe in the 17th Century and the word “Gingham” appears to derive from the Malaysian word genggang meaning ‘striped’ and adopted by the Dutch.
In Indonesia, it symbolises the battle between good and evil. The contrasting colours represent this relationship.
In Japan, the gingham pattern also has spiritual symbolism. The checked fabric was used to wrap around statues when a child had died.
The African Masaï tribe has used a check fabric pattern for thousands of years. Gingham check is part of the national costume.
In Cambodia, a gingham type cloth called a krama has many uses from the decorative to the practical.
In Germany, the gingham fabric is claimed to have originated in Bayern, while Italians claim that gingham is from Northern Italy.
The French call it ‘Vichy’ since they feel it originated in the Vichy region.
The USA claims that gingham could not be more American having produced the fabric for a couple of centuries. Gingham was imported to colonial USA long before it was locally produced.
In Europe gingham is associated with the authentic: country-style, rustic symbolism. This is no different in America where the fabric became synonymous with cowboys, the wild west and the frontier. This country-style, wholesome symbolism has made gingham a popular choice for tablecloths, curtains, aprons and practical workwear. In more recent times it has been a staple for business shirts, offering pattern and character over a typical white shirt but still providing a classic and formal look when dressed with a suit.
Gingham has been used for school uniforms throughout the world: everywhere from Australia; the Philippines; South Africa; France; England and the USA. It is also synonymous with children’s clothing, baby bedding and now bistros, tablecloths and curtains.
There is no mistaking the fact that the simple Gingham Check is probably the worlds most recognised and worn checked fabric, whether you are dressed for school, work or style. It’s a true classic and will therefore remain part of the FR3ND shirt range and form our own staple classic.