Home Normcore Nerds Flock to Gingham Shirts

Normcore Nerds Flock to Gingham Shirts

Dorothy Gale doesn’t need Auntie Em to tell her gingham isn’t just in Kansas anymore. 

Silicon Valley Street Style is a weekly feature that looks at the intersection of fashion, technology and taste.

How many gingham shirts can you count on a single day in San Francisco? 

The countrified cross-pattern favored by newscasters and wind-blown Kansas teens, and made infamous via the New York City-centric Instagram account, is still going strong in Silicon Valley. And once you notice the prevalence of the gingham shirt, you start to see it everywhere. And I mean everywhere

Just the other day, I saw two gingham shirts on the train, one at work, three at the coffee shop, five during lunch … and then I lost count.

The infamous design even made some high-profile appearances earlier this month at TechCrunch Disrupt, Silicon Valley’s annual event of startup preening, posturing and pandemonium. 

Venture capitalist John Lilly of Greylock Partners got in on the seed round of this season’s hottest fashion trend.
TechCrunch’s Kyle Russell knows getting the inside story from Silicon Valley’s biggest players is no picnic … unlike his shirt. 
Ryan Lawler, another TechCrunch scribe, spent more than five years covering tech and telecom … and one day being fabulous.

So how much checked gingham actually occurs in the city? I took to the streets in San Francisco’s South of Market area to see just how many gingham shirts I could find. 

Andrew Elkins, strategist at KPMG LLC, executed just one action to get this look.

Now, clearly this trend isn’t specific to Silicon Valley or San Francisco. The most popular fashion and business casual trends always proliferate in the big metropolitan cities. But gingham seems to have made a special impression amongst the tech-savvy, even to the point of seeming overplayed to some. 


IGN’s Andrew Vashro plays the gingham game.

Andrew Vashro, who works in operations at IGN, says that gingham is the “style of the season”, and tells me with tongue-in-cheek that the pattern is so prevalent because of “Banana Republic. They force you to buy it!”

Kabir Seth is in real estate development and clearly knows that basics guarantee a strong wardrobe ROI. 

For those wondering what gingham is exactly—it’s a pattern extremely similar to plaid, and can be mixed up to the untrained eye. The stripes on a gingham pattern are only of one width, and is always contrasted with white. The end result are perfect little squares reminiscent of Brigitte Bardot, Gilligan’s Island, or the Wizard of Oz

Fanny, a graphic designer, is a fan of clean lines that criss-cross.

Fanny, a graphic designer, tells me that gingham is a classic pattern, and is perfect for collared shirts.

“Gingham has boldness, but it’s also gender neutral. It looks great on everyone,” says Fanny. 

Amy Wicks, editorial curator at fashion-fueled e-commerce site Polyvore, believes that gingham is a trend that has come and gone. 

“Lately, our Polyvore community has been searching and styling houndstooth patterns, soft leather jackets, textured sweaters and burgundy colors,” says Wicks. 

Chris, from Hip Hop For Change, stays based by pairing gingham with a hat and interesting facial hair. 

Others agree that gingham is a classic design that is here to stay. Kate Franco, director of merchandising at women’s fashion re-commerce platform Poshmark, says that gingham is a marker of instant style. 

“The gingham shirt is a classic, a fashion forward take on the plaid shirt—plus it’s versatile and everyone looks good in it! Going with gingham is an easy way to add instant style and stand out in a crowd,” says Franco. 

I’ve seen a lot of people wear gingham, and as much as some might want the checks booted from the streets, it really does work on everyone. What can I say, keep pulling it off, SV! 

Update: This image was sent to us by a Say Media engineer at a career fair in Berkeley. 

Twitter user @nerdtt sent us this gingham goldmine: 

Image courtesy of Flickr user Insomnia Cured Here, TechCrunch Disrupt photos by Flickr user Ken Yeung, photos by Stephanie Chan 

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