From Hippies to Haute Couture: The History of the Tie-Dye Trend

Psychedelic and colorful, the tie-dye prominent in the ‘60s and '70s has returned to the runways, giving 21st-century fashion a playful twist.
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Once again a major fashion trend, the historic origins of tie-dye trace way back to the traditional color dyeing techniques used for centuries in countries such as India, Japan, Indonesia, and Peru. Before becoming a mainstream style, this beautiful print has been a form of cultural expression crafted in countless different shapes and patterns all across the globe. 

Distinctive for its eye-catching and organic design, tie-dye’s uniqueness comes from its versatility in shape and texture. However, people have only been using the dyeing method to decorate their everyday clothes in more recent history. During the late ‘60s, tie-dye became a sensation when the U.S. company Rit decided to advertise its dye products by knocking on artists’ homes in New York City. Soon, the DIY project became emblematic of a decade. 


Tie-dye was adopted by an entire generation of rebellious youth, making the style a symbolic representation of peace worn by the free-spirited. In the early ‘70s, tie-dye was widely related to the Hippie movement as its psychedelic form became dominant in music festivals and protests. The era’s tie-dye was electric, bold, and came in bright hues, often taking the popular swirl form. 

As a number of '70s trends have returned today, so has tie-dye, both in the lively colors of the Hippie era and more sophisticated applications. This revival has experienced a massive boom, rapidly turning into celebrities' go-to style. Seen imprinted in elegant gowns at red carpet events and in matching two-piece sweatsuits reminiscent of those quarantine days at home, tie-dye has found a place in all areas of fashion.

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Left: John Sebastian at Woodstock, 1969. Right: Taylor Swift at Wango Tango, 2019.

The tie-dye craze has been one impactful enough that it has permeated high fashion. Throughout the years it has cropped up on the runways, even appearing in Haute Couture collections from Dior and Givenchy. For Spring/Summer 2021, designers like Stella McCartney and Proenza Schouler have shown that this vibrant design has been a huge inspiration for new collections, from multi-colored ombré stripes to funky bursts of color.

If one thing remains true, it's that tie-dye is an ever-changing, cultural phenomenon loved by the world for its coolness and youthful connotations that, even when it seems to be vanishing, comes full-force each and every time. 




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