Tie Dye and its Seventies Origin - PART I

Tie Dye and its Seventies Origin - PART I

Tie Dye's technique comes from several distant origins. We agree. 
But the one we know well comes from a more recent past. Perhaps you can see where this is headed, it's an integral part to understand and appreciate Tie Dye style:
The appearance of the Hippie current in the sixties and seventies.

A bit of History

What could we say briefly about the Hippie movement ?

origin tie dye

The Hippie movement began on the west coast of the United States, particularly in San Francisco, in the early 1960s. Many were middle-class students, mostly from the post-war Baby Boom generation (1930-45).

Hippies advocate a new art of living, based on oriental philosophies and freedom in all its forms. This means long hair, Indian clothes, nudity, freedom of love... But also, the important use of cannabis, hallucinogen, and especially the total refusal of any form of alienation from the codes of the "right-thinking" American society.

Many young people then became adepts of free love, defended non-violence and questioned materialistic values.

Despite a movement often characterized as ephemeral, associated with drugs and pop rock music, Hippies clearly turned Western societies upside down in the second half of the 20th century and left an undeniable imprint.

Their beginnings of United States

origin tie dye

Born in the United States in the early 1960s, the movement is characterized by : 

  • its refusal of consumerism ✓
  • its rejection of traditionalist values ✓
  • its refusal of societal submission ✓
  • its fight against the Vietnam War

Indeed, in the United States, the beginnings of the movement were in a context of contestation and rejection of the established order which federated part of this youth. By means such as the demonstrations against the Vietnam War and the riots of blacks in the big American cities.

Born just after the Second World War, this generation  also rejected the "American way of life" and sought to escape the consumer society by putting forward ecological and egalitarian values inspired by oriental philosophies.

For more details on Hippie counter-culture read also " Seventies Origin - Tie dye - PART II ".

From the hippie movement a new pop/rock musical current is born. It frees itself from the codes of the time (committed lyrics, legendary instrument solos, first saturated electric guitars, exaggeratedly long pieces). Thus, the values of this protesting generation rise loud and clear. 

The Monterey Festival, the Isle of Wight Festival and especially the Woodstock Festival...  Its large musical gatherings, which bring together more than 500,000 people, have largely contributed to the popularization of the movement throughout the world. 
We know that music brings people together, and we know how it can be powerful.

Writers and (especially) music 

Let's talk about literature.

origin tie dye

Many of the hippie aspirations are inherited from the writers of the Beat Generation (American literary and cultural movement). They are also considered precursors of the movement because they too express a break with mass society. They led a liberated life of constant movement: 

  • On the Road, 1957, was a book emblematic of this quest and will remain so for the hippies. 

Allen Ginsberg, American poet and Beat Generation's founding member, inspired, among others, American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Gary Snyder, poet, thinker and anarchist activist, through his writings and personal experience, contributed greatly to the promotion of Eastern and Buddhist philosophy that were not yet popular at that time.

The utopia of a life centered on freedom, sexuality without taboo and music, the hippies add psychedelia. To this must be understood: the search for new perceptions through the use of drugs. 

Timothy Leary, American writer and psychologist, is known for his maxim "turn on, tune in, drop out". He advocated the psychedelic revolution by LSD (at that time still legal).

In 1964, the writer Ken Kesey founded the Merry Pranksters, the name of a semi-nomadic psychedelic group, with whom he travelled across the United States in a bus decorated by their own to organize acid tests around the psychedelic rock of the Grateful Dead.

Let's talk about music (Summer of Love).

origin tie dye

In 1967, large meetings or "love-in" (or "be-in") and free concerts were held at Golden Gate Park, near Haight-Ashbury, a neighborhood in San Francisco.

In January of that year, the giant Human Be-In happening was considered the moment of grace of the movement. As a result, it brought together hundreds of people from different tribes of the counter-culture of the time. They came to read poetry, be together and listen to the music of bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane or Country Joe and the Fish…

Then, students began arriving on site during their spring break in 1967. 
Although municipal leaders were determined to stop the young people's influx who had been left free by their schools for the summer, they unwittingly drew attention to the event.

This triggered a series of news articles in local newspapers and alerted the media to the growing hippie movement. Some members of the Haight Ashbury community responded by forming the Council of the Summer of Love, giving an official name to a movement created by word of mouth.

As a result, the event of the summer was the Monterey International Pop Music Festival which brought together 200,000 people and where:

  • Jimi Hendrix and The Who play for the first time. 
  • The personal and artistic evolution of the Beatles at this time also played a role in the scope of Summer of Love: “All You Need Is Love”. Listened to around the world, the song emphasized the ideals of love, peace and unity conveyed by the counterculture. 
  • The album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released in June 1967, was the essence of Summer of Love: synthesized by its psychedelic influences, the use of Indian instruments and its brightly colored cover.

During the summer, as many as 100,000 young people from around the world converged on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco, Berkeley (and other cities in the area to participate in a popular version of the hippie experience).

In August 1969, the Woodstock Festival was held. It was a music festival as well as an emblematic gathering of hippie culture. It took place in Bethel on the land of farmer Max Yasgur, about sixty kilometers from Woodstock in New York State.

Organized to take place from August 15, 1969 to August 17, 1969, and gather 50,000 spectators, it finally welcomes more than 500,000. Many spectators did not pay for their seats; it continued for one more day, until the morning of August 18, 1969. The festival offered concerts by 32 groups and soloists of pop, folk, rock, soul and blues music.

 It is indeed to the rhythm of the songs of The Who, Canned Heat, Iron Butterfly, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Joan Baez, Crosby, Stills, and Nash and their procession of psychedelic images, that the hippie movement crossed the Atlantic.

The Hippie current and the aesthetic

The messages conveyed by their style

origin tie dye

Partly out of rebellion, the hippie (woman or man) kept the long hair for:

  • denounce the Vietnam war where all the soldiers had their heads shaved

Women wore them most often detached and without headgear. 

  • The freedom of the body being complementary to the freedom of the spirit that the hippie advocated. 

Naturism was emphasized in the hippie lifestyle. Going barefoot in the dust was also a message:

  • against the hygiene values presented in the American model.

Hippies liked to buy their clothes in thrift stores or made them themselves. Indeed, with the Tie and dye ! They just had to create their pigments (often from plants or from what they found in their vegetable garden) to dye the fabrics (t-shirt, pants) in bright colors in the shape of spiral or more or less random round.

  • In total coherence with the idea of anti-consumption.

The hippie's clothes and all the bright colors that characterize them ...

  • were contrasted and even shocking at that time when the outfits were rather dark and uniform. 

Blue jeans, the traditional pants of American workers in the twentieth century. It also became an emblematic garment of the hippie generation. What made it evolve: it was often worn painted (dyed), embroidered, sewn, covered with shells, flowers, and always with flare jeans (elephant-bottom pants). 

  • The clothing becomes a mode of expression of the personality.

When they were not in dresses or skirts, women often wore the same type of clothing. This androgynous character brought up to date by the hippie culture was:

  • surprising at that time, both men and women wore blue jeans, necklaces and pearl bracelets without distinction. Equality between sexes.

Tie and dye, blue jeans: this clothing fashion has become timeless

origin tie dye

At the end of the 1970s, many features of hippie clothing were recuperated by the Disco fashion, modernized in a more urban form. 

Then jeans pants are probably the hippie clothing attribute that has stood the test of time and various fashions that have followed. Indeed, since it always remained present since all its last decades it will remain it from now on as much for the men as for the women. So much the better !

Finally, it is especially the relaxation in the way of dressing which is the marked change inherited from this time, as well as the personalization of the clothing via the Flower power and thanks to the Tie and dye

How it goes in our current lives ?

In conclusion, if the Tie and Dye techniques were declined in primary colors (rainbow) in the 70s, it has softened deeply with time, flirting even with pastels. Oversize T-shirts, dresses, sweaters, are adorned with these gradations of shades with a strong visual identity while remaining soft. 

Fashion evolves like us, language, art, thoughts, philosophy, politics, cultures and the World. 

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