Check patterns are making waves

Check styles are a trendy print in fashion, offering a versatile, dynamic and abstract design that creates a cool visual effect. High-end fashion labels like Louis Vuitton (with its Damier collection) and Burberry (with its Heritage Check pattern) love them, as do casual trendsetters like Ralph Lauren and J. Crew with their gingham shirts and tops. The classic print can either make a bold or simple statement, while adding depth to a fashion piece.

The check print is making waves in the promotional market as well, as companies and organizations look for ways to separate their apparel from the traditional offerings. “The days of printing over solid colors only is long gone, in my opinion,” says Andrea Engel, vice president of portfolio management for alphabroder. “Thanks to extreme popularity in fashion for pattern and print, we are seeing our industry embrace the trend and delivering great-looking decoration on patterned apparel.”

There are a variety of popular check styles, all of them incredibly versatile: bold checks, houndstooth, windowpane, plaid, gingham, weaves and more. They vary in style and size and also come in a variety of color schemes that provide pieces with personality and character. There are feminine prints, large all-over prints, quilted looks, print blocking and simple checks, and they can be featured on jackets, woven shirts and polos.

Nancy Robitaille, head designer for Fersten Worldwide Inc./Fila Golf, cites a check base with a floral overlay as an especially exciting pattern option right now. “The check trend is popular because it creates depth in the fabric,” she says. “It gives the garment a higher perceived value due to the classic aesthetic of the design.”

Checks can be bold or subtle. For example, Fersten offers a heavyweight jacket with a checked patterned front. “The plaid fabric design hints at subtle texture,” says Robitaille, “yet the jacket can be decorated using most of our decoration techniques and the pattern does not interfere with a logo.”

"Checkered patterns can also be very sporty and would work well in the car/racing industry,” she says. Casual or sophisticated, you can “check” the box for either.