Some fashion trends disappear for a few years—maybe even for multiple decades. But then teenagers learn about the vintage style and decide they want to bring it back. They reinvent bad haircuts from the 1980s, restyle embarrassing clothes, and more. But recently, teens have diverted back to wearing tie-dye shirts and other accessories, and it’s making people from the 1960s and 1970s wonder why the trend is popular again.
Stop The War
In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States was involved in one of the deadliest, most devastating wars in history—the Vietnam War. Teenagers and young adults looked at the state of the world and were furious with government officials. Feeling restless, the youth of America were sick of authority and turned their backs on the country they once supported. They demanded authorities “stop the war.” Kids looked elsewhere for happiness—including love (“Make love, not war”), drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll music.
It didn’t take long for these free-spirited youths to feel out of place in their home country. Movements started across the country, including civil rights marches, free speech battles, feminist uprisings, and anti-war protests, including the Kent State massacre on May 4, 1970.
A Counter-Culture Society
Youths turned to love, drugs, sex, and music as a way to empower their opinions. They formed a counter-culture society—reversing everything authorities told them to do. Whatever they were told to do “by the law,” they did the opposite. This counter-culture society found its way into popular movies and music, specifically The Beatles, who rocked the world with songs about love and peace. That’s all American teens and young adults wanted: peace. Why did we need a war?
A New Trend At Woodstock
In 1969, the famous Woodstock music festival was hosted in Bethel, New York. People who identified themselves as members of the counter-culture (also known as “hippies”) started wearing a piece of clothing seen at the festival that they felt truly represented them. The festival, running from August 15-18, hosted 400,000 people for “3 Days of Peace and Music.” Hippies went to experience live music from The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and more. They bonded over their love and passion for peace.
But three of the most influential performers—Janis Joplin, John Sebastian, and Joe Cocker—weren’t necessarily favored for their music. Instead, it was their fashion that sparked a cultural influence and would later become a symbol of the counter-culture society. They wore a design no one had seen before. But once the youths saw it, they knew they wanted to wear it as well.
Bring On The Tie-Dye
These performers wore tie-dye shirts. While this pattern dates back to ancient Peruvians in 500 AD, the spiraling, colorful, marble-like design created with “resist-dyeing” techniques summarized what counter-culturalists stood for: rebelling against society. The shirts sparked creativity, but the trend eventually died out by the 1980s and 1990s. A majority of the hippies grew up, and the old t-shirts were tucked away in closets. They were never to be seen again, or so they thought.
Tie-Dye Is Back
Former hippies of the ‘70s had to be confused when they started seeing bright, swirling patterns popping up everywhere in 2016. Youths started wearing tie-dye patterns again, but it shouldn’t be that surprising. Fashion expert Shabd Simon-Alexander commented, “Our culture is going through an upheaval right now that’s not dissimilar to the late ‘60s and ‘70s.”
More people are choosing to wear vintage, retro clothing. Fashion that was considered “not-so-cool” in the past is now being worn by nearly every youth. Vogue magazine even featured the fashion choice as a 2019 summer trend. Designers from Prada and Michael Kors are incorporating the pattern into their fashion brands. Even Starbucks released a “tie-dye Frappuccino.”
So, if you’re walking down the street and you see someone wearing a tie-dye shirt, you’re not back in the ‘70s. Tie-dye is back, and this time, it’s not going anywhere.
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