There are few fashions on the runways that take us back to our childhood yet retain enough allure to keep us wanting more. Those of us who remember the 1970’s in the San Francisco Bay Area have memories of bowls filled with dye, boxes of rubber bands and a stark white tee-shirt. We used to twist and turn our tee-shirt’s while wrapping several rubber bands around the white cloth. After preparing our tee-shirt, we used to dip our creation in every dye bowl available and try to create as many colors as possible on our art project. This very colorful and wet article of clothing was then placed carefully in a plastic bag and taken home to be hand-washed in ice cold water. The child who came to school the next day with the most colorful tee-shirt won the bragging rights as the tie-dye champ of the class.
Teenagers and adults wore tie-dye as a political statement rather than a show of artistic ability. In the 1960’s the San Francisco Bay Area saw an emergence of anti-establishment culture spurred by the backlash to the Vietnam War. Tie-Dye shirts were seen as a way of expressing oneself in a non-conformist way. This made the style very popular among the anti-war crowd. Our local musical culture also latched on to the tie-dye style and many concert tee-shirts for bands such as the Grateful Dead showed symbols of the group as well as being tie-dyed. Although tie-dye had political significance in the 1960’s, it moved into the mainstream by the 1970’s. Once a style becomes mainstream, it eventually makes it way into the creative offices of the fashion industry.
We have seen tie-dye enjoy a resurgence over the decades since the anti-war movement came to an end. Tie-dye appeared in the 1980’s on prairie skirts, tank tops and headbands. It made another, smaller comeback in the 1990’s but became overshadowed when Paris Designers opted for the dip-dyed or ombre look. The ombre look came back in style during the mid 2000’s and has since gone back to the storage containers in our closets. This has left room for tie-dye to make a fresh start for 2010. Tie-dye popped up on the Spring 2010 runways in various forms from single color dye to rainbow kaleidoscopes. Designers such as Peter Som, Proenza Schouler, Bottega Veneta, Herve Leger and Calvin Klein showed garments such as tight, 1980’s style mini-dresses, cardigan sweaters, mini-skirts and of course tee-shirts. Accessories have also taken on the trend in the form of canvas totes, espadrille’s and scarves. Designers experimented with different types of fabrics as well. In addition to cotton, models donned tie-dyed silk, polyester, wool and even fur. (Of course you may not see much fur here in the bay area!)
Tie-Dye not only holds many memories for bay area fashionistas, it is also a current fashion statement. This is one trend fashionistas do not need to spend money on, rather, it is a trend to take advantage of and have fun creating. As our beautiful Spring weather approaches, why not invite a few friends over and have a tie-dye party! There are plenty of white garments to dye with one color or create a kaleidescope of beautiful shades. Why not tie-dye a dress with the bright blue of the season! A scarf would also make a fabulous fashion splash and be the prefect accessory to keep your shoulders warm just in case the fog rolls in; and the fog always rolls in! Be creative, and do not forget to tell us what you came up with! Whether you are making a political statement or a fashion statement, tie-dye is a current fashion DO!