311001-204ProductJacquard-Knitted Socks, 2 Pairs
history Polka dots
History Polka dots
It seems like an American women’s magazine was the first to use the term ‘polka dots’, in 1857, referring to a pattern composed of equally sized and arranged round dots. At the time, polka, a Bohemian half-step folk dance, had spread from its peasant roots in central Europe to become the biggest musical and social trend in Paris, then London, and later the United States.
Because of its massive popularity in the mid-19th century, contemporary products were often marketed by having the ‘polka’ prefix attached to them. Various foods, home decor and pieces of clothing, sometimes dotted and sometimes not, and usually not at all connected to the actual dance, became part of the polka wave. The Swedish polkagris, a striped peppermint candy stick invented in 1859, is one such example. In France, on the other hand, polka dots are referred to as peas, in Spain as little moons and in Germany as coins.
After their initial peak in the latter half of the 19th century, polka-dot fabrics again became popular, especially in the US during the interwar years, appearing on children’s clothes, women’s dresses, nightwear and bedding. The early 1940s saw a great revival of printed dots and the polka pattern was described in the American press as clean, democratic and patriotic.
When the extravagant ‘new look’ was launched in Paris after the war, polka dots were used in hour-glass evening dresses and ball gowns for their traditionally romantic and feminine connotations. The pattern has since mainly become associated with an optimistic and cheerful fashion of the postwar era.
With the mechanic jacquard loom – invented by French weaver, silk merchant and engineer Joseph-Marie Jacquard in the early 19th century – it became possible, on a larger scale, to incorporate intricate patterns and artworks directly into woven textiles.
Through an early form of data programming, the pattern design was copied from paper to a series of punch cards that controlled the weaving loom; each hole in the card corresponded with an individual thread being raised or lowered, which allowed for complex patterns and varying surfaces within the fabric.
Jacquard is a general term for fabrics produced on such a loom, brocades and damasks being two common examples, often but not always woven from silk and featuring floral or geometrical motifs. Some fabrics are completely reversible while others have a distinct face and reverse.