History of Tie-Dye


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Ancient Tie-Dye Methods

Tie-dye wasn't the brainchild of American hippies during the 1960s. Traditional methods of tie-dye were formed in India, Japan and Africa as early as the sixth century. (1) The oldest known tie-dye tradition that is still practiced is an Indian method called Bandhani. (2) Bandhani, pictured at the right, involves tying small pints of thread and dip-dying, resulting in designs featuring small dots. Another form of tie-dye is Shabori, a method that is very similar to modern tie-dye. The Japanese used primarily indigo to dye their garments, which were usually made of silk or hemp. (2)


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Tie-Dye Comes to America

In the 1960s, tie-dye was brought to America through the hippie movement, a youth movement that advocated the sexual revolution, psychedelic rock and protested the Vietnam War. Hippies wanted a way to escape from the strict social norm of the 50s, and tie-dye was just one way of expressing their free-spirited nature. Before tie-dye became popular, Rit Dye was struggling. Don Price, a marketer for Hellmann's Mayonnaise, began a marketing campaign for the dye in Greenwich Village, where many hippies lived. He went door to door, looking for artists who would use Rit for tie-dyeing. Then came Will and Eileen Richardson, two retired artists who made tie-dye pieces that Price showed to designers and fashion editors. After clothing designer Halston started using tie-dye in his designs, stars such as Janis Joplin were wearing it. Soon enough, tie-dye became a bandwagon the entire youth generation jumped on. (3)