What is Pique Cotton?
Pique cotton, otherwise known as Marcella, originates from the 18th century Lancashire cotton industry. The Pique refers to a particular weaving style, where the fabric was produced using a mechanised technique or weaving double cloth with an enclosed cording weft. Originally used to imitate the luxury Provencal quilts made in Marseille France, by the mid-20th-century pique became a key material in men’s clothing.
Pique Cotton is a material characterised by raised parallel cords or fine ribbing in the fabric. This gives the material a subtle pattern and texture, which can only be seen up close. Textures and patterns vary across pique shirting too. You’ll find some with a cord structure, others with waffle or honeymoon structures, and even bird’s eye piques. These textures are created using a slightly different manufacturing process to add visual depth to the original pique design. The pique fabric’s density varies from sheer to heavy-weight waffle cloth, making the textures and patterns slightly different across individual pique clothing.
What are the Benefits Of Pique Cotton?
The texture and nature of the geometric weave means that it is incredibly breathable
Wicks away moisture
Hides any perspiration
Can withstand the heavy washing process
Stretch-imbued / flexible
Pique is used in different clothing, such as sportswear and cotton shirts but it is most commonly used for polo shirts. Tennis champ Fred Perry has a lot to answer for in terms of the polo shirt’s modern-day popularity; Fred Perry pioneered his own line of polos, opting for pique cotton thanks to its great give and breathability.
Outside of the sporting realm, Mr. Ralph Lauren identified a gap in the menswear market for pique cotton during the 1960s. Keen to drive status forward within the fashionable enclave of Manhattan, Lauren set out to design clothing that appealed to the rich while also keeping them comfortable through day-to-day activities. In 1968 the label’s first collection of menswear was conceived under the name ‘Polo’ – taken from Ralph’s favourite sport and the adopted shirting style of the same name – a silhouette which featured heavily within the debut collection and still remains a Ralph Lauren hallmark to this day.