What is an Argyle?

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Posted by: Kristin Crane Category: Design Tags: , , Comments: 0

What is an Argyle?

There is a reason classic argyle socks have become a favorite for wearing and gifting alike. This pattern stands the test of time, has wide-reaching appeal and has an exciting history. While we don’t have any traditional versions in our licensable library, we have several patterns inspired by this classic. These translate well in residential and commercial interiors.

A screen shot of four patterns from the product page showing argyle inspired patterns.

But first, what is an argyle?

An argyle pattern features overlapping diamonds with intersecting diagonal lines on top of the diamonds. They are traditionally knit, not woven, using an intarsia technique.

The pattern was named after the 17th-century tartan of Clan Campbell of Argyll in western Scotland. Originally, Scottish Highlanders wore this design on kilts and socks, sometimes referred to as tartan hose.

It first became more popular when Pringle of Scotland introduced the intarsia design on sweaters and socks. According to Pringle, it “was adopted by the Duke of Windsor and became immediately popular with the fashionable set of the 1920s.” Around this time, long socks worn with the plus-four trousers as part of a popular golfing outfit started featuring argyle.

Its popularity continued to rise in Great Britain after World War I and eventually crossed the pond. In 1949, the US company Brooks Brothers’ president was in Scotland and saw a friend wearing argyle socks. He liked them so much that he connected with a manufacturer in Scotland to bring the first pair of argyle socks to the United States in 1952. New York’s fashion scene immediately embraced it.

The humble argyle is one of those designs that transcends class. British royals, prep school students, sports teams, and sports fans all wear argyle with equal enthusiasm.

We all have Pringle to thank.

While many different companies design sweaters and socks with argyle at every price point, Pringle is credited as its originator and continues to keep the design relevant. They often reach back into their archive to update classic and vintage designs and work with new designers to keep their knitwear exciting. And plenty of print designers create argyle prints that show up everywhere, from umbrellas to wrapping paper to housewares and more. It’s one of those patterns with a presence in nearly every home in some form!

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