‘Tie Dye’ is a modern term referring to the ‘tied & dyed’ technique used to create the designs. It is is characterized by the use of bright, saturated primary colors and bold patterns, including a spiral, mandala & peace sign & the use of multiple bold colours.
Although already having existed for over 6000 years as a technique in many ancient Asian & African countries & cultures tie dye was first officially known in the US in 1909 when Professor Charles E. Pellow of Columbia University acquired some samples of it.
Although various tie dye techniques were already used in Western fashion it was during the 1960s when the iconic modern psychedelic tie dying became a fad. The trend increased in popularity as rock stars such as Janis Joplin & John Sebastian wore tie dye clothing on stage. After the introduction of affordable Rit dyes tie dying became popular as a cheap & accessible way to customize clothing.
During the Vietnam War it became a form of expression as well as protest for the for the hippie, psychedelic generation who wanted peace & freedom. As the youth of America chose to rebel against authority & the conservative rules of dress of their parent’s generation they embraced a movement that valued arts & crafts, simplicity & the traditional way of making things. The technique was used to decorate t-shirts, curtains, tapestries, pants & more. It became associated with many trends from the 60s such as hippies, rock concerts, psychedelic drugs & antiwar marches. The tie dye design became an iconic symbol of the sixties & is still present in various forms today.