Fashion Synopsis

“Excuse me while I kiss the sky…”

Jimi Hendrix was the man when it came to serious guitar licks and psychedelic style. But even more than Hendrix himself, nothing said ‘psychedelia’ better than the rainbow explosion of swirling colors and bold designs of the ancient art of tie-dye.

Tie-dye is one of the oldest forms of fabric manipulation and design. The concept is simple: dye can only penetrate loose fabric, and when portions are bound off by string, rocks, clothespins, or rubber bands, the dye cannot reach that part of the fabric. That untouched section could remain the original color, or you could then dye the pristine sections a separate color to create works of art.

Japanese kimonos were famous for their tie-dye, where small puckers of fabric were tightly bound with thread and then submerged in dye to achieve partial saturation. Nigerian women tied fabric in knots before dyeing their cloth a deep blue indigo, and when the fabric was unknotted, that portion would remain the original color, while the rest would be a beautiful blue.

During the 60’s, the hippies’ revival of old ethnic crafts resurrected the art and put a new spin on tie-dye. The hippies’ tie-dye was no subtle handicraft—they tie-dyed with several colors, layering one on top of the other for wild bursts of color and crazy visual trips. Hearts, peace signs, bullseyes—anything could be done with a little creativity. Tie-dyeing became the ultimate sign of the times.

Rit-dye, the best in do-it-yourself home dyeing, supported the fad with handy how-to instruction booklets inside each box. It was exceptionally simple, and the only limitations were your own mind and creativity. All you needed was a t-shirt, a few packs of dye, and some rubber bands to create modern Picasso paintings for your clothes.

The 80’s returned to tie-dye when a new generation pulled out the crazy Dead Head shirts their parents wore when they were kids. Parents passed down the knowledge by turning t-shirts, sheets, socks and more into colorful pinwheels of fun. Even when it wasn’t a widespread fad, tie-dye remained a style of choice for 60’s holdovers and people who just wanted a little psychedelia in their wardrobe. Tie-dye will never die, and the sky’s the limit.

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