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For years, tie dye has been seen as a classic surfer style that is synonymous not only with 21st-century beachwear but also with the hippie movement of the 1960s. However, many people are surprised to hear that tie-dye clothing has been around far longer than the 60s. Let's delve into the history of tie-dye and find out what makes this simple but highly effective clothing style so influential. Classic psychedelic style The term "tie-dye" was first coined in the 1960s in the US, when the likes of Janis Joplin and John Sebastian rocked tie-dyed outfits during their music performances. They were part of the hippie movement - a generation that wanted to push away from the strict societal norms of the 1950s in favor of a more free-spirited life filled with psychedelic rock, peace, and love. Many psychedelic rock bands embraced tie-dye merchandise because it perfectly mimicked the weird and wonderful designs of their album covers and logos. 60s rock fans may be most familiar with Grateful Dead tie-dye t-shirts which perfectly mirror the type of colorful, mind-bending music the renowned band produced. However, hippie style was often far more experimental than simple tie-dye shirts, with sarongs, smocks, tunics and waistcoats - all in beautifully bright tie-dye prints - being popular among both men and women. Despite being linked closely with the anti-establishment counterculture of the 1960s, tie-dying soon became a mainstream hobby because it was a relatively cheap and easy way for people to customize their clothes. Plain old t-shirts, pants, dresses and jeans could easily be transformed with a few different colored dyes, some string or rubber bands, and oodles of creativity! Although the hippie movement gradually diminished and lost its prominence by the late 70s and early 80s, the love for tie-dye remained. People continued to use the technique at home and it's still a popular customization technique to this day. However, the surfer community held onto tie-dye, appreciating the free-spirited mindset that it represents. Although mainstream fashion houses lost interest in designing tie-dye garments, there has long remained a demand in the surfer world for some mind-bending tie-dye clothes. The ancient art of tie dye We said that tie dye coined its name in 1960s America, but that certainly wasn't where the technique first originated. The process of tying and dyeing garments has historic roots that go back centuries. The earliest examples of tie-dye come from Peru and date back to around 500 AD, when materials were tied in knots to create patterns made up of lines and circles. We also know that forms of tie-dying have been used in various Asian regions from as early as the 8th Century. Shibori is one such example of tie-dye which originates from Japan and Indonesia. There are lots of different Shibori techniques, many of which involve plaiting and stitching highly intricate designs onto fabric before dyeing to produce beautiful and often very detailed patterns. Tie-dye garments have also been popular in West Africa, particularly the Hosta region. It is understood that for centuries people in this area have been tie-dyeing fabrics and embroidering them with traditional patterns to create very ornate garments. The area of Kano in Nigeria is particularly well known for its old dye pits which are still in use today. Common tie dye styles for surfer and hippie clothes One of the many reasons why tie-dye is such a popular DIY technique is that it's pretty hard to get wrong. Even if a design doesn't quite turn out as expected, the intense, cheerful colors and trippy designs look cool enough that it just doesn't matter. However, the more complex patterns and color combinations are usually best created by experts like us, who have a lot of practice! There are several highly popular tie-dye styles and patterns which are most well-known; let's take a closer look at a few of them. Tiger stripes Tiger stripe tie-dye shirts seem to be particularly popular among the surfer community, perhaps because the diagonal stripes almost mimic the appearance of waves. This tie-dye pattern usually only uses one color, with the dark stripes simply fading out to a paler shade. It's a subtle, understated and really versatile tie-dye style. Sunshine A sunshine style tie dye shirt will have a large circle of color - often yellow or orange - at the center, surrounded by rings of multiple different colors which look like the rays of the sun. This fun, bright style would look right at home on a tie dye sweatshirt, and it also works well when designs are printed onto the center sun area, like the Koloa Surf Company logo for example! Spiral We think the spiral is perhaps the most classic tie-dye hippie shirt styles you can choose from, but it's also one of the toughest to DIY, so there's no wonder it's one of our most popular styles! Usually at least three colors are used to create an eye-catching spiral, but four or five-color spirals, particularly in rainbow shades, are truly impressive. We particularly love a spiral on a tie dye tank top for a fun and fresh beachwear look. Starburst A psychedelic hybrid of tiger stripes and spirals, the starburst tie-dye style usually has lines of deep color radiating outwards from the center of the garment with paler color and flashes of white surrounding it. A tie dye shirt with long sleeve tends to lend itself really well to this pattern because the stripes can radiate right down the arms for maximum hippie impact. Rainbow fade stripes This technique looks particularly impressive when used to create a tie dye hoodie or sweatshirt. The ink - in all the colors of the rainbow - is positioned in thick horizontal lines across the entire garment. Each color fades into the next, creating a beautiful rainbow garment that runs from rich red at the top through to vibrant violet at the bottom.
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