A Brief History of Tie Dye

The earliest known examples of tie dye date back over 2,000 years: shibori in Japan, bandhani or leheriyain India, plangi or tritik in Indonesia, adire in Nigeria, amarra in Peru, and zha ran in China. Most of these terms translate as something close to “tie and dye” and refer to a form of "resist dyeing," where fabric is manipulated prior to applying dye in order to "resist" absorption.   

Holi Powder Dye

Ancient trade routes between China, Egypt, and Turkistan can be traced through archeological findings of tie dyed textiles that date back to before the 5th century, CE. While not invented by the Muslim civilization that rose to prominence in the 7th and 8th centuries, the spread of tie dyeing techniques is related to spread of Islam throughout the Near East, North and West African, and into Europe, probably due to the abstract nature of tie dyed designs, which were deemed inoffensive to the aniconic nature Muslim aesthetics.

African Indigo Tie Dye

It was not until the 20th century that tie dye would  reach the Unites States, when Professor Charles E. Pellow of Columbia University acquired some samples of tie dyed muslin and subsequently gave a lecture and live demonstration of the technique. Tie dye's current name was given when RIT dye sponsored a booth at the 1969 Woodstock Festival and helped to outfit Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and subsequently an entire generation.

While tie dye is now intimately associated with the American Hippie Movement, in a lot of ways it is also emblematic of that movement's opening of the door to the cultural influence from the many non-white communities that constitute the American landscape, previously closed by racist and xenophobic doctrines regarding American-ness.

Woodstock Tie Dye

We offer our tie dye as a continuation of that tradition and in the spirit of peace, love, and compassion amongst all human beings. 

fitra collective tie dye shirt

Shop FITRAMADE Tie Dye Shirts, from $33

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