by Joelle Cecilia Quek
Across the globe, plaid is making a sartorial comeback on runways and streets alike.
Plaid, otherwise known as tartan or checks, is a trend that is making its comeback on runways and sidewalks alike, in recent months.
With Chanel leading the way, brands like Gucci, Valentino and, Alexander McQueen jumped onto the bandwagon, presenting plaid-patterned skirts, dresses and sweaters in a multitude of colours on the recent Fall 2014 runway shows.
Closer to home, online retailers Zalora and Noel Caleb have begun offering plaid-patterned pieces in their collections.
Let’s take a look at the beginnings of this versatile pattern.
Originating from the Scottish Highlands in the 16th and 17th centuries, plaid is made of wool with yarns of contrasting colours. It was used as a pattern on blankets and to distinguish between people of different clans, aspects of society and political loyalties within communities.
The pattern captured Queen Victoria’s attention, and she incorporated plaid into her own dressing, adapting it for formal wear to suit her own needs. Due to her influence, plaid entered high fashion vocabulary in the 19th century.
“Katy Perry has been a big influence in changing what people wear. When she and other celebrities started wearing this pattern, they encouraged people to try wearing the plaid trend by showcasing how they themselves wear it on a day-to-day basis.”
– Eileen Yap, founder and designer of local label Noel Caleb
Since then, plaid has made its rounds in the sartorial circles via old Hollywood stars, 70’s band members, television show wardrobes, 90’s grunge fashion, A-list stars and teenagers. It has even been styled for the working class, complete with a suit, or a blazer and slacks.
Eileen Yap, founder and designer of local label Noel Caleb, says, “Katy Perry has been a big influence in changing what people wear. When she and other celebrities started wearing this pattern, they encouraged people to try wearing the plaid trend by showcasing how they themselves wear it on a day-to-day basis.”
The singer has been spotted sporting the trendy pattern on various occasions, such as a performance on Saturday Night Live, where she wore a plaid skirt; while promoting her new fragrance in Berlin, donning a plaid jacket and skirt; and while out in London for dinner, wearing a plaid skirt and a leather jacket.
In the local context, many people from various walks of life have been spotted on the streets wearing plaid in different forms. Whether it is t-shirts, shorts, jeans, shoes or bags, plaid has made a strong comeback on local streets.
“I feel that plaid patterned-clothes provides contrast in peoples’ wardrobes,” Ms Yap says. “I think that nowadays the variety in the cutting and design of the plaid clothes are more interesting than in the past.”
A survey conducted on youth aged 16 to 18 reveals that 43 per cent were in favour of the plaid trend, and 94 per cent own at least one plaid-patterned item.
Hein Htut, 17, a freshman from Film, Sound & Video, says that he owns three plaid-patterned items and first noticed plaid when it was used on clothes.
Han Shu Shuang, 19, founder of local online store Danity Roses, looks to fashion bloggers, such as Eunice Annabel, as sources of influence and inspirationnot just for plaid but also for other emerging fashion trends.
She says, “It used to be rare to see people in Singapore wearing patterned clothes, but teenagers nowadays are more daring, so it’s interesting to see photos of it on Instagram.”
Adrina Lee, who runs online retailer Ninth Store, says, “I used to only see plaid items in shops when I [go] out, but nowadays with the Internet, Twitter and Instagram, it’s easier for people to see and share new trends, and so they spread faster now than in the past.”