A Short Cultural History of Tie-Dye

What's old is new again, and so is the popularity of tie-dye shirts in 2019. The resurgence of tie-dye patterns might remind you of hippies (and those of us who followed the fashion), and it's normal for fashion to look back at previous decades for both nostalgia value and to sell clothing to a new generation. But tie-dye never really went away, and it goes back much further than the hippie era.

In the United States, tie-dye is closely associated with the 1960s counterculture — Woodstock, the Grateful Dead, psychedelia — and for those who came of age in the ensuing decades, with childhood craft projects. But its history is much longer than that. Tie-dye is a relatively easy, flexible technique that accommodates any number of aesthetics, and many cultures around the world — in India, China, Indonesia, and Nigeria, to name just a few — have made use of it for hundreds or thousands of years, resulting in regionally specific styles that go far beyond candy-colored twists.

Read about some of those styles, and the timeline of tie-dye fashions in the modern era at Vox.

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