California Tartan

California Tartan


California Needs Its Own Fabric

Virginia may be for lovers. But Massachusetts loves gingham.

Massachusetts state representative Paul McMurtry has introduced a bill (HD153) to make gingham (the cotton fabric, not the familiar plaid) the “official textile of the Commonwealth.” The move is a nod to the state’s textile history and the second time a Massachusetts legislator has attempted to award gingham the title. Harold P. Naughton Jr. introduced a prior version of the bill in 2013.

California has a lot of “official” things. Some are pretty obvious. The official animal is the California Grizzly, the flower is the California Poppy, the bird is the California Quail, the mineral is gold and its two trees are the Coastal Redwood and the Sequoia. Others not so obvious include the California state amphibian, the California red-legged frog and the dance, West Coast Swing, which is not to be confused with the official folk dance, the Square Dance. There’s also an official fossil, the saber-tooth cat, and an official insect, the California Dogface Butterfly.

California has no official textile, but it does have a state tartan (the California State Tartan, pictured above), but lots of states have a tartan, including Virginia, Connecticut, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Georgia, Hawaii, Colorado, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as South Carolina and North Carolina, which share the Carolina Tartan.

Texas has a state fiber and fabric—cotton, which is awesome. (It also has a state molecule, the Buckyball Buckminsterfullerene, and a state snack, tortilla chips and salsa).

A handful of states have official jewelry. New Mexico’s official state necklace is the Native American squash blossom, South Dakota’s state jewelry is Black Hills gold and Arizona’s official tie is the bolo.

Maybe it’s time California has an official textile. What should it be? Maybe denim? Sure, it was invented in France, but Levi Strauss turned serge de Nimes into jeans.

Or maybe jersey? Probably also invented in France, but California has raised the T-shirt to an art form and we could probably make swimwear the official state uniform. Or maybe we should go for the Hollywood angle and make it red carpet.

What do you think? What should be the official textile of California?