Pique is a weaving method that is most commonly recognized by its small ribbing and crosshatched cords. The pique style of weaving is most commonly done with cotton thread (or a cotton blend) though this does not always have to be the case.
It is commonly believed that pique style fabrics were created for the construction of clothing to be worn at highly formal events. This is due to the fabrics ability to hold on to far more starch than other weaves of fabric. Though there is no all evidence to support this, it interesting that pique fabric came into being around the same time as the upwelling of support for highly formal events that required a strict dress code.
Today the most common use for pique woven fabrics is in the construction of most polo shirts. While polo shirts constructed out of plain woven fabrics are modestly popular it is pique polo shirts that garner the lion's share of sales.