The History of Gingham: from Malay to Mod / Vichy to Vespas

The History of Gingham:

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The name Gingham may originate from Malay genggang 'ajar, separate'. Alternatively, it is speculated that the fabric now known as gingham may have been made at Guingamp, a town in Brittany, France, and that the fabric may be named after the town. Some sources say that the name came into English via Dutch.

When originally imported into Europe in the 17th century, gingham was a striped fabric, though now it is distinguished by its checkered pattern. From the mid-18th century, when it was being produced in the mills of Manchester, England, it started to be woven into checked or plaid patterns (often blue and white). Checked gingham became more common over time, though striped gingham was still available in the late Victorian period. The equivalent in the French language is the noun vichy, from the town of Vichy in France. Same word is used in Spain where this pattern is called "cuadro vichy" or "estampado vichy".

Gingham fabric was popular to use in various dress material such as shirts, skirts, maxi and also for some home furnishing such as towels and curtains. Along with muslin, gingham is often used as a test fabric while designing fashion or used for making an inexpensive fitting shell prior to making the clothing in fashion fabric. Gingham shirts have been worn by mods since the 1960s and continue to be identified with fans of mod music.

In the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries, the gingham pattern is often used for younger girls' school uniforms.

Famous examples of Gingham in history include:

  • Brigitte Bardot famously wore a pink gingham dress when she got married. This started a trend which caused a shortage of this fabric in France.
  • Manchester United F.C. wore a gingham-pattern shirt during the 2012–13 season.[12]
  • Dorothy wore a blue gingham dress in the Wizard of Oz book and film.
  • Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island often wore a gingham dress.
  • Bill Hicks made reference to gingham in his famous stand-up comedy routine in regard to Jack Palance from the 1953 movie Shane.
  • In Marty Robbins's Grammy-winning song "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife" (1970), he mentions his wife "in a dress made of gingham".[13][14]
  • In the Captain Beefheart song "My Human Gets Me Blues" from the album Trout Mask Replica (1969), he sings “I saw you baby, dancin' in your x-ray gingham dress.”

Mod skinhead girl gingham shirt

Brigitte Bardot Gingham wedding dressDorothy Wizard of Oz Gingham dress