Tie-dye has undergone a fashion evolution since its first iteration as a favourite of the salty-haired, peace-loving children of the '60s. Once the preserve of hippies and beach bums, it's now on the cusp of going mainstream, with everywhere from Zara and Topshop to Proenza Schouler and Calvin Klein celebrating the homespun dyeing technique. So how did it become big news for SS19?
Long before the Summer of Love, tie-dye was known as shibori, a Japanese technique that prevented dye from reaching certain parts of the fabric, thus creating psychedelic patterns and free-flowing forms. It's been practised for over 2,000 years across the globe but these days most commonly evokes the free spirit of the hippie subculture. Designer Halston started using it in his collections, and eventually a whole generation wore it to demonstrate their anti-establishment ways (legend has it that Janis Joplin slept on tie-dyed satin bedsheets).
The pattern found favour once again in the '00s, this time with your younger brother, who would wear tie-dyed tees from surf shops like Billabong and Rip Curl to the school disco. Its kudos plummeted and it was banished to coastal towns to be worn by people who actually catch waves – even if those waves were in Cornwall, rather than Cali.
And then fashion surprised us, bringing tie-dye to the SS19 catwalks in collections we can legitimately see ourselves wearing day to day. Don't believe us? Look at Kaia Gerber in R13's show, wearing a zingy tie-dye blazer, matching tee and loose, distressed denim shorts. "The surprise hit of the season really was R13," says Elizabeth von der Goltz, Net-A-Porter's global buying director. "The casual-wear brand gave California a grungy approach with their loud tie-dye prints, ripped denim and tough styling."
If that's still too surf's up for your taste, reference Ashley Williams' punked-up SS19 show, in which models with vinyl black lips and Siouxsie Sioux blusher wore denim minidresses with white bleached-out tie-dye. For a more feminine take, see Prada's embellished acid-hue dresses – it wasn't just the oversized headbands that made Miuccia's spring collection a talking point.
So what's separating the current trend from its predecessors? "The most exciting thing about this trend is that tie-dye – for the first time – is not only a print on jersey but has been further developed on luxurious fabrics such as leather, cashmere and silk," says Costanza Lombardi, junior buyer at Browns.
The brand to invest in? "The basic jersey tops from ASAI are key pieces to be worn layered underneath tailoring or on their own," says Lombardi. ASAI already has a slew of London fans, from Lily Allen and Sharmadean Reid to Fashion East's Lulu Kennedy. How are we wearing? Under sharp black blazers for the ultimate juxtaposition and, come summer, on everything from swimwear (Solid & Striped is doing our favourite pieces) to sweaters (where The Elder Statesman is really excelling).
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