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A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

Off-the-shoulder gingham top- Forever 21 | high waisted jeans- Topshop | slides- H&M (similar) | bag- Cult Gaia | sunnies- Forever 21 | necklaces c/o Made By Mary

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

White sunnies for summer

I think it's pretty safe to say that along with things like sunscreen, popsicles and floppy hats, gingham has secured its spot as being synonymous with summer, but the history nerd in me got to thinking— what's the deal with this checked fabric anyway? How did it get its start, when did it reach mass popularity, and so on and so forth. So as with basically every query in life, I got to Googling... here's what I learned.

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

As it turns out, gingham has a pretty lengthy history. Originally manufactured in Dutch-colonized Malaysia and Indonesia, the fabric was exported to Europe and colonial USA in the 17th Century. The lightweight nature and breathability of the fabric (it's basically a simple cotton or linen fabric with dyed fibres), coupled with the fact that it was quite inexpensive to produce/purchase, led to it's mass popularity. It originally had a striped appearance, but somewhere down the line, checks were woven into the fabric, giving it the look we all know and love today. 

Both England and the States set up their own cotton mills to produce the fabric in the 18th Century, and by the 19th Century, it was widely used for everything from home furnishings to clothing, and even toys and school uniforms for children. But textile history aside, gingham really secured its place in the  conscious collective in the 1930's thanks to Dorothy's iconic, blue-and-white checked dress in The Wizard of Oz, and then again in the 50's with Patsy Clein's rockabilly look and Brigitte Bardot's famed pink-gingham wedding dress in 1959. The fabric had a real moment moving into the 1960's with the Mod movement where it became synonymous with youth culture, then it took the backseat to other popular trends over the next couple of decades, coming back into focus in the 1990's. 

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

summer accessories

Enter the 21st Century, and gingham enjoys continued popularity, especially when summer rolls around each year. It has come to symbolize nostalgia and youth, and the classic fabric is used to sell everything from sun dresses and trousers, to popular off-the-shoulder tops like this one from Forever 21. Now I don't know what tomorrow holds for gingham, but after learning all about this iconic textile, I have a pretty good feeling it's future will be as lengthy as its past.

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

summer accessories

Oh, and since we're going down the fashion history road, did you know that bamboo bags almost identical to this 'it' bag (above) from Cult Gaia originally gained popularity in the 1960's, as did sunglasses like these white ones, which later became iconic all over again thanks to Kurt Cobain in the 90's? #TheMoreYouKnow

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

Photos by Anton Atienza

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