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by Robert Firth October 01, 2020

The History of Tie - Dye Clothing 

Tie-dye clothing has become very popular since its conception; tie-dye has huge demands everywhere due to its versatile nature to adapt to all kinds of styles. In this article, we shall be looking at the history of tie-dye clothing. 

The Ancient Times  

The history of tie-dye clothing is much older than you think, with its history stretching back to the pre-Columbian era where we found tie-dyes in Peru, which dates from 500 to 810 AD. It had many designs and bright colors, which included red, yellow, blue, and green. 

Archeologists have found broad cultural indications that the people of that time were just as fond of colorful dyes just like us. The textile production of that time and textile techniques are compared with today’s modern industries and techniques. 

All these artifacts are very important in understanding the worth of tie-dye clothing; they help us understand the Peruvians' methods that they employed in making of these fabrics as well as what worth these tie-dyes had to their culture. 


When it comes to Asia, it has a very rich history of tie-dyes; in regions such as Japan, Laos, and Thailand, the tie-dyes were in huge demand for centuries. Take the example of Shibori in Japan, a type of dye that originated there. 

When we look at the word Shibori's etymological root, the root word “shiboru” means to squeeze or press something. The earliest example of Shibori can date back to 238 AD, in the Chinese documents where it’s frequently mentioned. 

However, the surviving example will date back to the 8th century, when a tie-dyed cloth was donated to a Buddhist temple in 756 CE. The techniques researchers were able to uncover suggest traces of wax resists, bound resists, folded, and clamped resists. 

The surviving examples' nature is not all strictly Japanese in origin rather show an overlap between Japanese and Chinese traditions. Shibori includes many resist techniques such as stitching in patterns and gathering the stitching before the cloth is dyed and various forms of designing, which was used in a variety of clothing such as kimonos.  

Another dyeing method was wrapping the fabric around a rope, wood, or some other material and then binding it tightly using a string or a thread. At the end of the process, the areas which are under the binding remain undyed. 

When we look at Indonesia, we found the tie-dye culture prospering there as well, as it’s revealed by the words they have for tie-dyeing such as tritik and plangi, which were derived from Japanese words. 

Another term, "bandhna," which means to tie in Hindi, comes from India, which is the reason behind the prosperity of Bandhani fabrics, famous in Kutch, a district in Gujarat. Depending on Asia's geographical location, one will find different kinds of resisting methods employed in making tie-dye fabrics. 



When we look at the African subcontinent, tie-dyes are equally very popular, and tie-dyeing techniques have been used in centuries there. In African regions, one can find a variety of tie-dye clothing depending on the cultural activities of that specific region, take for example; the Hausa regions of West Africa, there are indigo dye pits which are located in the Kano region of Nigeria.   
The tie-dyed clothing is then embroidered and designed according to the geographical location's traditional demands and techniques. The African artisans come up with different intricate and elegant patterns on the clothes which are geometrical, free-flowing, and loose or a mix of all of these. 

African artisans begin with a base fabric and draw intricate patterns on it by winding or using glass strips to form a resist on the cloth. Besides with tie-dying of clothes, one can also expect to see many sorts of symbols emerging in African culture. 

For example, the dyes which come from West Africa often include Akindra, Akan, and Ashanti Symbols. In the Ashanti culture, symbols of plants and animals play a huge role. Take the Alligator example, which signifies adaptability, a heart symbol signifies tolerance, and most importantly, the Gye Nyame Symbol, which signifies the enormous power of the God Nyame, who is the God of the Akan people who live in Ghana. 

In Africa, there are various methods of tie-dyeing a cloth. One method is where the artisan ties or stitches a cloth tightly to stop the dye from penetrating the fabric. After which the artisan applies the starchy substance to the fabric. After the process is completed, the fabric acquires pale spots on a dark background when it’s washed. 

The second method is when the artisan folds strips of clothes into several narrow pleats and then binds them together. This binding and folding resist the dye to then produce the final product. Tie-dyes in Africa are tremendously famous, and artisans put their heart and soul in making the dyes. 

The Modern Times 

Tie-dyeing made its way to the west in the modern era when Professor Charles E. Pellow of Columbia University picked up some tie-dyed muslin samples and gave a series of lectures on the die and live demonstration of the technique behind the tie-dying of clothes by the year 1909. 

The Hippie Era 

Even before the hippie times i.e., in the 1960s, there were shibori and Balik techniques in western fashion even though they were slightly rare. However, modern methods of tie-dying began to take form in the 1960s due to the examples set by the rock stars of that time. 

For example; Rock stars such as Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia, and John Sebastian. John also did his dyeing. These stars helped popularize the fashion of tie-dying in the US and influenced many youngsters and fans to adopt tie-dyes as a clothing choice in their apparel. 

In this period, the new type of clothing, many times called the hippie era, or the hippie age, is known for its creativity and uniqueness. Many people began to purchase these dyes with this sudden spark of tie-dyes as they were not that expensive. 

Another important factor contributing to the rise of tie-dyes in this period is the musical landscape, as individuals tend to reject societal norms. As the individual felt overwhelmed by the restrictions put on them via the civil unrest! 

These new unique clothing types allowed people from all socioeconomic classes and ethnicities to participate in a broad culture of fashion and expression of personality; anyone could create their symbols of love, joy, and peace.  

In a way, the new psychedelic print revolutionized the way society used to express itself and replaced the rigid, dull colors with new, more bright, and intricate patterns. During this moment, RIT dyes took the chance and started funding dozens of artists to start producing a wide variety of these tie-dyes to sell to people during the 1960s.  

Soon, the RIT dyes became the symbol of hippie culture during that period, and tie-dyes became the hippies' favorite clothing choice. A little more about the hippie culture is that their movement was preceded by the civil unrest of the time, a state devoid of justice as were the consequences of the Vietnam war and the rigid structures of the conservative values and dress codes. 

In that period, the young generation wanted to break away from all these parent generation values and move towards a much more passionate, joyful, and liberal form of living. The youth began to reject all forms of establishment which preceded their generation, and tie-dyes were a simple bi-product of their movement. Just something which helped them put their point out there and express themselves in a much more open way. 

It was also a moral paradigm shift as the new kind of clothing signifies youngsters' rebellious ways. The youth rejected the established totalitarian moral code and adopted a much more flexible and joyful stance on morality. For those who had despised the hippie mode of dress, the tie-dyes were nothing more than symbols of drug abuse, criminal behavior, and infidelity. 


The 80s 90s 2000s and Today 

In the 1980s, the tie-dye clothing began to be thoroughly established, and artists began to come up with various kinds of aesthetics to incorporate into the tie-dye clothing. The deadhead subculture is responsible for distributing unique dyes and garments in the concerts, thus utilizing the concerts as a venue to trade the dyes. 

The tie-dye culture continues to be frequently represented in popular activities such as Catwalks. Today, bright colors and clothing continue to signify rebellion and change. As today the LGBTQ+ community utilizes the bright colors of the dyes frequently to rebel against the heteronormative society and conservative values. 

By the early 2000s tie-dye was for the most part removed from main-stream popular culture young people were infatuated with the new sleek styles of the modern sports brands like Nike, Adidas and Puma. This knocked several smaller brands out of the market including the loud tie-dyed types like Turtle Beach.  

Slowly though over the last 20? 15? 10? Years Tie-dye has made a comeback. Today DIY tie-dye kits and tie-dye clothing has never been more popular. We can only speculate as to why or how exactly it came back but we are thrilled to be back and ride the wave. Old is new. Turtle Beach is back and we’re not going anywhere this time!  

Guest post by: Sabsawan

Robert Firth
Robert Firth


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Size Chart
This size chart is to determine your top's size. If any of your measurement is on the borderline between two sizes, you can pick the smaller size for a tighter fit or the larger size for a looser fit. If your chest and waist measurements correspond to two different suggested sizes, you should order the one which is indicated by the measurement of your chest.


cm in cm in cm in
4 XS 3 - 4 96 - 104  243.84-264.16 16 - 18 kg 53 - 56  134.62-142.24 55 - 56  139.7-142.24
5 S 4 - 5 104 - 112  264.16-284.48 18 - 20 kg 56 - 58  142.24-147.32 56 - 57  142.24-144.78
6 S 5 - 6 112 - 118  284.48-299.72 20 - 23 kg 58 - 61  147.32-154.94 57 - 58  144.78-147.32
7 M 6 - 7 118 - 126  299.72-325.12 23 - 26 kg 61 - 65  154.94-165.1 58 - 60  147.32-152.4
8 M 7 - 8 126 - 132  325.12-337.82 26 - 31 kg 65 - 67  165.1-170.18 60 - 62  152.4-157.48
10 L 8 - 9 132 - 141  337.82-355.6 31 - 39 kg 67 - 70  170.18-177.8 62 - 64  157.48-162.56
12 L 9 - 10 141 - 149  355.6-373.38 39 - 45 kg 70 - 72  177.8-182.88 64 - 67  162.56-170.18
14 XL 10 - 11 149 - 156  373.38-393.7 45 - 50 kg 72 - 77  182.88-195.58 67 - 71  167.64-180.34
16 XXL 11 - 12 156 - 163  393.7-403.86 50 - 54 kg 77 - 81  195.58-205.74 71 - 76  180.34-193.04
18* XXXL 12 - 13 163 - 166  403.86-411.48 54 - 57 kg 81 - 85  205.74-215.9 76 - 79  193.04-200.66


cm in cm in cm in
XS 76–80 193.04-203.2 64–68 162.56-172.72 86–90 218.44-228.6
S 80–84 203.2-213.36 68–72 172.72-182.88 90–94 228.6-238.76
M 84–88,5 213.36-224.79 72–76,5 182.88-194.31 94–98,5 238.76-250.19
L 88,5–93,5 224.79-237.49 76,5–81,5 194.31-207.01 98,5–103,5 250.19-262.89
XL 93,5–98,5 237.49-250.19 81,5–86,5 207.01-219.71 103,5–108,5 262.89-275.59



cm in cm in cm in
X-Small < 88 <223.52 < 73 <185.42 < 88 <223.52
Small 88–96 223.52-243.84 73–81 185.42-205.74 88–96 223.52-243.84
Medium 96–104 243.84-264.16 81–89 205.74-226.06 96–104 243.84-264.16
Large 104–112 264.16-284.48 89–97 226.06-246.38 104–112
X-Large 112–124 284.48-314.96 97–109 246.38-276.86 112–120 284.48-304.8
XX-Large 124–136 314.96-345.44 109–121 276.86-307.34 120–128 304.8-325.12
XXX-Large 136–148 345.44-375.92 121–133 307.34-337.82 128–136 325.12-345.44
XXXX-Large 147-160 373.82-406.4 133-145


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