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The Last Word

The Gingham Shirt

The Gingham shirt has been a Ben Sherman favourite for over 50 years, with its iconic style lending itself well to both smart and casual looks.

After exploring the history behind the button-down shirt last week, we thought it was time to dive into the makings of this classic.

This week, the Last Word investigates Gingham.


Today the term ’Gingham’ is often used interchangeably with checked. The term Gingham was first created over 500 years ago, it was derived from the Malayan word for striped, 'genggang'. Gingham in actual fact is a dying technique, wherein yarn is dyed prior to being woven with an undyed yarn. Across Asia, the Gingham technique was seen as the perfect way to create striped shirts, and it wasn’t until Gingham made its way to Europe did it lose its stripes..

Gingham in Britain

Alongside the Smiths, the Stone Roses and Oasis, it looks like we also have something else to thank Manchester for: the Gingham checked shirt. During the 18th century, the famous textile factories of northern England were taking a huge financial hit and were desperately looking out for new products and techniques to boost their bottom line.

Checked shirts using tartan and plaid patterns were already popular in the UK, and manufacturers decided to apply the Gingham technique to these existing British favourites, creating the association between Gingham and check we know today. The checked Gingham fabric grew from there, becoming one of the most famous fabrics in the world.

Gingham and Mods

As well as being associated with the classic school uniforms of our youth, Gingham is also the ultimate Mod fabric. In fact, a button-down shirt in Gingham check was the perfect shirt for the Mod movement, looking as good paired simply with trousers as it did with your finest suit.

The Ska movement of the 70s and 80s also took to the Gingham check, with the black and white variety tyingin perfectly with the movements’ monochromatic look.

Gingham makes the perfect versatile men’s shirt, stock up on Gingham check shirts today.