The term has, like many textile terms, origins in south-east Asia. It is derived from the Malay adjective, genggang, which means, 'striped.' Where gingham fabrics were largely striped through the 17th and 18th centuries, it later became known for a trademark checkered pattern.
These days gingham usual incorporates checks combining white and one other color (my personal favorite is navy, seen in my recent review of Spectre & Co. shirting). Recently, I've been noticing more two-tone ginghams that swap out the white checks for another complimentary color. While I personally favor the contrast the white checks add to the pattern, the alternative is a warmer and slightly richer look, in my opinion.
From my understanding and observation, gingham tends to be a much popular pattern in the warmer months, used in lighter shirting fabrics like broadcloth and poplin. That said, I have been starting to see it pop up a lot more in winter flannels and other heftier fabrics, with colors ranging more into the fall tones. If you're looking for something gingham to add to your wardrobe now, I recommend something like this casual shirt from J. Crew (available at J. Crew Factory):
If you're looking for something a little dressier, head on over to our review of Spectre & Co., who offer this great shirt in navy gingham, as well as a variety of other color and scale combinations:
In fact, one of the most fun things about gingham is you can own 20 gingham shirts (not that you should...or shouldn't...), and never repeat a color or pattern scale. Wear bigger, bolder gingham to make a statement and stand out, or smaller micro-gingham for something almost-solid-but-with-visual-depth, or anything in between.