Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Got Gingham is on its way! Here is a preview...

GOT GINGHAM! This is a blog dedicated to my appreciation for gingham. What follows is a kick-off for the site gotgingham.com with a selection from my own finds. Eventually I will reveal the deep psychological analysis behind my obsession, but for those who need an introduction, here is the wikipedia reference:
Gingham is a medium-weight balanced plain-woven fabric made from dyed cotton or cotton-blend yarn.[1]
The name originates from an adjective in the Malay language, ging-gang, meaning striped. When originally imported into Europe in the 17th century it 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. Some sources say that the name came into English via Dutch.
Gingham is made of carded or combed, medium or fine yarns, where the coloring is on the warp yarns and always along the grain. Gingham has no right or wrong side with respect to color.
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 indie and mod music with brands like Liam Gallagher's Pretty Green, Fred Perry, Rough Trade and Merc producing gingham shirts.

Although this is not strictly a journalistic exercise, I have acknowledged the sources of the garments to add a bit of legitimacy to the reporting. However, I have no intent on promoting one brand over another. The point of GotGingham.com is to find and collaborate with the most diverse and varied sources possible. So let's start the blog with a few samples from my personal collection:
Here we have my red hanky, bought from an independent artisan in Montreal, called La La Land Factory. Given as a gift, I have no idea where to get another.


West Coast influence:
Short-sleeved shirt I got from Vancouver, circa 2003. Designer: famous international brand with same last name as Naomi-doesn't-want-anything-to-do-with-No-Logo.

Moving across the country, here's a dress shirt from a Calgary friperie who had no idea what they were doing when I walked in the store, circa 1998. My obsession hadn't materialized yet, so this is now for display only as my patient zero for the oncoming gingham epidemic. Designer: Obscure Italian boutique from Milan mentioned further below.


How about stopping in Winnipeg where if I'd had this beauty I would have totally fit in. Circa 2011 this has a black pin-stripe that almost makes it Not Gingham, a textile that differs slightly from Gingham. Designer: infamous international high street manufacturer they're always telling you to avoid if you ever ride the London Underground.

Here is one from that renowned outfit from Barcelona, that I hate to say, I was given in Barcelona. I flew back over New England. Designer: rhymes with "Horror" circa 2010

Reflecting the Spirit of '76:

Here we have a purple passion I wore to the airport once in Philadelphia. Designer: Montreal-based mill rhymes with Mwexx circa 2009.

How about some Grunge? Here is a felt/flannel I picked up from a Rag Trader giving out shirts 3 for a tenner. This is a steal makes me want to cry in Winter:

No Gingham No Cry: Fly a little closer, I want to write a book about the place.

And don't forget the French:

Here is a steal I scored in Montpelier. Less than twenty bucks in an Omniprix. So cheap I can now afford to visit New York. Designer: Pierre Cardin probably. Circa 2009.

 Or the Americans:
Gingham is like certain wines--it can be of different vintage (which should only ever have remained a wine term) and different sizes (which with Gingham, truly doesn't matter). This one I haggled off the street from a guy who promised me it wasn't hot but still could've been a disgruntled ex-employee for all I know considering his price. I figure it's no more than ten years old. Designer: rhymes with American Schmapparel but was bought in Canada on Bermuda Day this year. Possibly Circa 2001.

Capital Expense:

Original Baby Blue for the National Capital of Canada. This was a gift from well known high street shop. Designer: logo removed, but was red white and blue and the founder's first and last name rhyming with Omni-pilferer. Circa 2008

Now some Vittorio Lorini from Italy: 

Here is a green Gingham dress shirt from the House of Vittorio Lorini of which very little is known. That way I can wear it in Toronto and pull the wool over their eyes. Circa 1998, bought in Vancouver.

More Maritime Splash:

Similar to the Blue Gingham from Vancouver, this short sleeve shirt has a slightly different tone and a completely different texture. Purchased at a famous national supermarket chain in Canada which also does double trade as a quick garment pusher, this one came in under ten dollars and I promise to make it last as long as possible. At least we got it in a run-down section of town. I make no apologies, it was acquired by my research assistant for the benefit of the GotGingham Getters. To make it look cooler on you, try walking around Halifax Nova Scotia in it. Designed by Joe, circa 2011.

Now we go back to Montreal:

Here is a lemon and lime Gingham short sleeve shirt given away to me by a friend who used to work in the rag trade, had scored all these freebies and just let it go. Probably sourced in the schmatta district, circa 2001. Designer: Donna (BRB)KNY.

And here we return to the shores of Catalonia:

How about a visit to the Ramblas, where the cover shot for this blog was taken. Here we have a Not Gingham shirt that most purists would make allowances for considering the subtleties. Real Gingham should have four tones, Dark, medium, light and white. Here, if you look carefully, we see only three distinct tones. I walked all around the trendy parts of Barcelona and nobody called me out on it. Designer: Alfred Sung or his understudy, circa 2009

A return to l'Isle de Paris for a Black and White Gingham you can compare to the one above for the difference between Not Gingham and Got Gingham. This one was designed in Paris by those lizard logo people, but I wear it around le Plateau here in Montreal to remind my neighbours of our roots (as Francophones, not lizards) Circa 2009.

 You won't find this on any table in Mulberry Street:
Meanwhile I told you I could afford to go to New York. Here is a Green Gingham that I scored in Vancouver circa 2001. I wore it for many a year when finally somebody had the guts to tell me it didn't really fit. So I gave it as a gift to a friend the right size. He allowed me to take it from his prized collection and present to you here. Designer: Don't go to the London Underground and Fall between the Platform and the Carriage.

Not just Shirts!

 Here is a pink beauty case of unknown provenance. It is vinyl but still qualifies as a Gingham pattern. It was purchased in the Schmatta district of Montreal circa 2002.

 A bra that was kindly lent for show in this story by a part-time employee no longer with us. Notice how it is offset with the yellow ribbon--something about Gingham lends itself easily to these polite embellishments that you couldn't effect with other patterns. Purchased in the last six months from a well known store that rhymes with "Mercedes-Benza" based in the Island City circa 2011.

Now for some examples of NOT GINGHAM:

Here is a cap outsourced by the major high street shop with two letters available all over Europe and now North America. Notice how it is a combination of two gingham sequences: Dark Red + Light Red on White entwined with Dark Blue + Light Blue on White. This is called by the academics in the halls of Textile Theory [1] Not Gingham in reference to it being Ginghamish, but Not Quite. Since about the mid-1970's street gazers have been referring to it is as NYC-Style.  (As this blog develops we'll be hearing more about this different clashes in Gingham that have come out in the latest wave.)
Designer: Hm... Circa 2010

Let's wind this up on the south coast of Spain, Costa Blanca. Outside of town in the middle of an orange grove we came across a thriving market the size of several city blocks selling every item you might ever want to wear or eat and much you've never seen before. Where all this stuff comes from is a legend that goes back before the invasion of the Moors and the defeat of the Visigoths.  This pair of ladies shorts were less than the cost of two espressos, making them a very affordable gift to an ex-employee no longer with us. The most I can say of its provenance is from the label which has the size in European and US and the logo "Basics." Which is a great place to end since that's where Gingham finds itself in the pantheon of streetwear and textile classification: under "Basics." So even though I might have infused you with the same passion and zeal that I have for this all-enduring identification, remember to be careful about overdoing it. As Christie Blatchford (who, like me, prefaces by saying she has no idea what she is talking about when it comes to style) recently remarked, you don't want to be walking around looking like you've got a table cloth on. Which only just makes me think: Italian Restaurant Table Cloth (of real cloth)  + Slit = Gingham Poncho! Timeless.


  1. Going through my video phone uploads, I remember grabbing the camera and hit record to capture some Gingham moments being broadcasted to the world. The footage contains Jimmy Fallon wearing a Gingham shirt, just minutes before a whole Gingham history was explained on a daytime talk show from Toronto.

    Here's the links for now, copy & paste until I figure out how to do it properly..



  2. Thanks Irwin. I will forward this to our editorial department, when they/I come back from their/my lunch/sleep/spring-break.