Originally published 10/29/2008
Visitors to our website encounter some interesting terms that they may not have seen before. One of those is “pique.” What is pique? I asked my friends and relatives about their thoughts, because none of them work in the apparel industry. That usually results in some interesting answers. Only three of them had time to respond by my deadline, and these are their answers:
First answer: “Waffle-type weave. Used with cotton fiber, sometimes (but not often), poly blends. Seen on golf, sport and ‘traditional’ types of shirts. Generally not as soft a feel as a brushed cotton.”
Second answer: “A monochrome Jackson Pollock in fabric.”
Third answer: “Pique-The little raised bumps on fabric.”
They were all on the right track. Answer one is pretty close to the actual definition of pique. Answer three is also part of the package. Answer two is interesting. Jackson Pollock is best known for his paintings created during his “Drip Period” between 1947 and 1950. I can sort of see the Pollock-pique connection, in that the drippy Pollock paintings and pique knit shirts are both textured, not flat. A pique knit is evenly textured, however, while Pollock paintings are randomly textured, or at least textured according to the artist’s movements. Pollock may have enjoyed working in a pique knit polo shirt, originally designed by Rene Lacoste for comfort on the tennis court. Pollock was the originator of the “action painting” technique, with the revolutionary nature of his art being closely tied to his methods and materials more than the final outcome.
What, Then, is Pique and How Do You Say It?
The title of this blog is actually sort of a play on the word “pique.” If you say that you “pique someone’s interest” it means that you have raised their interest, or sparked their interest. You can also “Storm off in a fit of pique,” which would be a fit of anger. You pronounce that word the same way you would pronounce the word “peek.” The word “pique” as used in the clothing industry is pronounced “pee-kay,” and it refers to a type of knit. Pique knit shirts are more textured, due to the way the yarns are knit together, creating small, crisscrossing ribs in the fabric. This style of knit has natural moisture-wicking properties, and the fabric sits up off of the skin slightly.
Queensboro’s Most Time-Tested Shirt
Queensboro started with a pique knit shirt, the Classic Two-Ply Pima Pique Polo, style 1400. The shirt quickly became a favorite with those folks that loved the original Lacoste polo shirt, but not the alligator embroidered on it. So, the next time a shirt piques your interest, see if it is a pique knit. If it is, you are guaranteed a comfortable shirt to wear!