By: Lori Mouradian
In the past couple of years, many trends have made a comeback onto the fashion stage. I wrote about almost all of them. But I left one out — tie-dye apparel, a special trend that has returned to the high-priced fashion world even though it looks like your 9-year-old niece made it for you.
But first, some history on tie-dye merch. The earliest mention of tie-dye originates from China sometime between 618 and 906 C.E. and Japan between 552 and 794 C.E. Their process back then was not so different from ours, except they used natural flowers and plants as dye and soaked their items in boiling water.
Intricate designs were used to make “Bandhani” tie-dye as early as the 6th century in India, where they used thread to tie off small chunks of fabric to create designs — much like we do now.
Tie-dye rose to popularity in the United States during the 1920s and remained popular during the Great Depression, when people used the tie-dye method on old household items and clothes to make them appear new. Desperate times call for desperate tie-dying.
In the 1960s during the Hippie era, tie-dye surged in popularity because it was seen as a way to express creativity and individuality. After all, no tie-dye shirt is the same. Now, it’s a fun arts and crafts activity, which is how I and many of my peers have seen, made and worn tie-dye apparel throughout our lifetimes.
Recently, high-profile stars such as Justin Bieber, Beyonce and Paris Jackson have been spotted all in tie-dye. The movement toward tie-dye merch has been spearheaded by artist Kanye West and designer Virgil Abloh.
Kanye’s merch from his album “Yeezus” featured dark-toned tie-dye apparel, and Abloh released new designs incorporating tie-dye into the Louis Vuitton men’s fashion line. Anything Abloh likes, we all like. It’s a rule.
To be honest, I find this nostalgic resurgence kind of cool. When we think of tie-dye, we either think of a hippie halloween costume or an arts-and-crafts day at summer camp. But now the reputation for tie-dye apparel is changing to suit a night out, beach trips and busy class days.
No longer will you throw on an old bar mitzvah tie-dye shirt with your birkenstocks. Feel free to wear tie-dye anywhere. And not just tie-dye shirts, but socks, hats, sweatpants and even shoes. It reminds me being a kid again.
It’s interesting that tie-dye’s popularity originated from a counterculture movement, but its resurgence can be found on a New York runway. Although tie-dye’s rep has changed, we all will always reminisce on the first tie-dye socks we ever made while our hip grandparents may reminisce on their old tie-dye from Woodstock.