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Creative Dyes: The Unique Bridge Between Nostalgia and Contemporary

Unlike apparel with printed patterns, clothes with creative dyes are truly one-of-a-kind.


Some like to play it safe with solids, while others like to take the risky sartorial path with prints and creative dyes. 

Most prints have a pattern that repeats, and with the advancement in technology, it's becoming so much easier to create your own designs and print them out.

Creative-dyed clothes, however, require a more manual approach, and this is the factor that makes them unique. Variations, no matter how miniscule they are, happen all the time, so no two pieces are exactly alike. 

One of the most popular creative dye techniques is tie-dye. Tie-dye has been around for centuries with the earliest surviving examples from pre-Columbian era in Peru dating back between 500 and 810 AD.

It's part of a dyeing process called resist-dyeing, preventing the dye from evenly reaching all parts of the cloth. This resistance is conceived either through wax, mud/starch paste, tying/stitching (also called shibori), or chemical agent that will repel another dye. The Indonesian batik and tie-dye are the most famous examples of resist-dyeing.

Creative Dyes: The Unique Bridge Between Nostalgia and Mono B Tie-Dye Cotton Boxy-Cut Cropped Top in Grey ($26)
Mono B Tie-Dye Cotton Terry Shorts in Grey ($29)

Tye-dyeing technique was first introduced to the US in early 1900s by Professor Charles E. Pellow of Columbia University. Pellow acquired tie-dyed muslins and subsequently gave a lecture about tie-dye.

But tie-dying itself gained popularity in 1964. Don Price, who worked as a marketer at the dye company Rit, advised Rit to replace the box powders with squeezable liquid dyes, so customers can create multicolor designs easier. When Price heard about Woodstock, he sponsored artist to produce several hundred tie-dye t-shirts to be sold at the festival. The tie-dye trend, with its swirly pattern and bold, bright, contrasting colors, was naturally embraced by the counterculture art psychedelia, and the rest is fashion history.

If tie-dye is a bit too much of a fashion risk (there's no such thing, btw), then dip-dye is another choice.

Dip-dye is exactly what it sounds like: part of a piece of clothing (or fabric) is dipped into a pigment, without fully submerging it. Results vary based on the viscosity of the dye solution and the absorbency of the fabric. The less viscous the solution and the more absorbent the fabric, the softer the gradient/ombre will be.

Creative Dyes: The Unique Bridge Between Nostalgia and Mono B Dip-Dye Cotton Terry Raglan Top in Medium Mocha ($35)

While tie-dye has been going through a major revival because it's the era of nostalgia and everything old is new again, the ombre dip-dye has a more modern vibe. And tie-dye's association with the hippy movement and flower power is making some people think twice about wearing it (at least unironically). 

So while everyone can rock the more contemporary ombre look, who can really pull off tie-dye?

Oh, just about everybody.

There's no correct way to wear creative dyes, but if you're not convinced yet that you can do it, here's our tip.

Let's say you have that tie-dye shirt you've been wanting to try out but still looks too loud (or so you think). All you need to do is find a hue in the tie-dye top and wear a bottom (leggings or trousers) that match it. If it still looks too busy, you can always opt for black, grey, or white.

Creative Dyes: The Unique Bridge Between Nostalgia and Mono B Cropped Wave Tie-Dye Jacquard Hoodie Pullover ($35) 

We love creative dyes and you can find both tie-dye and dip-dye in our collection. However, you can always experiment! Find a solid-colored Mono B athleisure or loungewear piece, get a pigment in your favorite hue, and try that dye! Whatever the result is, it's going to be unique and 100% yours. 


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