5 Interesting Facts About Tie-Dye

Discover how and why this ancient printing technique is still in vogue

What comes to mind when you hear “tie-dye”? Most people think of a hippy look. But tie-dye is actually a technique that involves tying then dyeing fabric, dates back over thousands of years, and has varied considerably over the course of history. As well as going back to ancient times and reflecting specific cultures, tie-dye is also a way to experiment and express your individuality.

Discover how and why a printing technique that dates back to 4000 B.C. is still fashionable today in our video all about the ancient dyeing method below.

Peace, love, and dye

The best-known version of tie-dye dates back to the 1960s and the emergence of hippies. This North American movement embodied numerous aspects of transgression, and one of the ways of expressing this was by subverting the logic of capitalist production. So making your own clothes, shoes and accessories was a form of transgression; and psychedelic printing became one of the movement’s key features, thanks to the explosion of color and shapes the technique enables.

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Psychedelic tie-dye patterns were popularized by the hippie movement in the US during the 1960s.

Bandhani and Shibori

Bandhani and Shibori are ancient fabric dyeing techniques. They both create geometric patterns using tie-dye.

Bandhani was born in India around 4000 B.C. and it’s still used today. It’s a very complex craft that uses thread, stones and seeds to make geometric patterns. The motifs and colors have a range of different meanings and reflect the beliefs and culture of a specific village.

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A piece of Bandhani-dyed fabric.

The first records of fabric dyed using the Shibori technique technique date back to the 18th century and are from Japan. Shibori also gave birth to a range of spin-off techniques, like kanoko, which is the closest to what we now call tie-dye. Some of the other variations of this technique are highly complex, such as: arashi and itajime, which use materials including sticks and wood to apply dye.

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Shibori is a Japanese tie-dye technique.
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A piece of fabric dyed using the shibori technique.

Do it yourself

Tie-dye is a process that gives rise to experimentation and allows each individual to create, re-design or personalize their own clothes - irrespective of whether or not they’re masters of the technique. The affordable nature of the materials and the nostalgia for working with our hands have also ensured that tie-dying never goes out of style. Have a go!

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