“The first thing I bought that was really stylish was in 1969 when I was eleven,” Paul Weller once confessed. “I saved up for a black, grey and white tie-dye grandad vest. It was too big – they weren’t catering for kids my age – and hung off me, but I loved it.”
Well, if it’s good enough for the modfather, it’s good enough for you. Fittingly, tie-dye always comes with a soundtrack. Emerging from the backdrop of 60s America, where it had been taken up by such icons of counter-cultural style as The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, it floated through the Woodstock years, its psychedelic vibe just about surviving the 70s. The acid house warehouse parties of the late 80s and early 90s kept the tie dye flame burning and, in recent years, the likes of Kanye West have given it their seal of approval.
With roots in various summers of love and impeccable peacenik credentials, it is no surprise that, in the bellicose age of Trump and Brexit, tie-dye is making a stand again.
From Phillip Lim’s shorts to Jil Sander’s knits, this swirling whirl of color has made it into the Summer collections. Louis Vuitton and Issey Miyake had men in tie dye jackets and pants. Amri featured tie-dye knits while Cerrutti made tie dye look like camouflage. Off-White stunned with a wonderful dip-dyed coat, while Rei Kawakubo sent out an indigo shibori suit at Comme des Garçons Homme Plus.
A great alternative to the usual summer motifs of florals or nautical stripes, if you are considering tie-dye, approach with caution: even Jimi Hendrix would have struggled to carry it off from head to toe. The key is to buy one piece and wear it with a neutral shade – and with pride. Then, like a young Paul Weller, you will have acquired something really stylish.