What’s What: Tie-Dye

Tie-dye is older than Woodstock. Although most people associate it with hippie movement of the 1960s, the earliest origins of the technique date back to Asia, where artisans used dyes extracted from natural materials. Variations on tie-dye exist all over the world—for instance, shibori in Japan—but they all produce unique, one-of-a-kind patterns. In the western world, tie-dye achieved fashion immortality in the 1960s, when the counter-culture youth picked up the optimistic and individualistic pattern. Today, tie-dye is more than just psychedelic and DIY, it also can be sophisticated and nuanced.

kate spade dress
kate spade dress

mandi tie dye

The tie-dye process involves creating gathers, folds and pleats by tying bands around fabric or a garment, then pouring dye over it. The folds protect the fabric and prevent it from being completely dyed. What results are areas of the cloth that have resisted the dye bath, leaving it unstained, which creates a unique pattern every time.

Because tie-dye can only be controlled to a certain extent, making the ultimate product a surprise, it always has an organic, handmade feel. That said, it can take on plenty of different moods. Depending on the colors (bright, dark, pastel or two-tone) and pattern (spiral, geometric, chevron or sparse), tie dye can project a youthful, grungy, L.A. cool or artsy vibe. No matter your style, there’s a tie-dye right for you.

Categories: Fashion 101