Tie-dye is back, baby, and nowhere more so than in swimsuit styles this summer.
Who would have guessed that, 40+ years after the Summer of Love, the tie-dye bikini — once a hippie icon — is showing up on beaches from Montauk to Maui, only this time on the children (or grandchildren!) of the Woodstock generation?
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Actually, tie-dyeing never really went away. Tie-dye was the original low-tech, low-cost DIY designer look. And most of us can recall a childhood experiment in which we wrecked our mom’s laundry tubs and some old T-shirts or briefs at the same time.
But today’s high-end tie-dyes are not the Tintex-and-rubber-bands variety that you might remember.
In the past few years, designers such as Martha Rey and Lisa Curran have added more (and more original) prints to their tie-dye swimwear lines, and tie-dye looks have been showing up in the collections of swim/surf/board clothing designers in California, Australia and South America.
And several layouts that featured tie-dye bikinis in last year’s Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition (that’s Bar Rafaeli in a Hurley tie-dye at right) only boosted the market for this retro beach look.
To get a sense of what can be done with tie-dyeing today, have a look at the exquisite “Crystalline” bikini by Shabd + Mocium (part of the wonderful collection of tie-dye fashions from artist-designer Shabd Simon-Alexander). Each piece is hand-dipped and unique, within the line’s color palette. Made for admiring, not for getting wet!
With that in mind, LT scoured the swimwear collections of designer labels around the world for the season’s best tie-dye bikinis — and found surprising variety and some stunning originality.
For shoppers, a caveat: Most of what you’ll find in today’s swimwear market are not authentic tie-dyes, but manufactured prints based on tie-dye patterns. For the real thing, look for pieces that boast hand-dipping or hand-dyeing (you’ll know them by their price, too!).
If an authentic psychadelic look or designer label isn’t all that important to you, you can find nice, inexpensive tie-dye bikinis in some downmarket brands like Billabong, Lucky, Roxy and even Target’s Xhilaration label.
Enjoy the photos, and remember — this summer, let your freak flag fly!
See our gallery of Terrific Tie-Dye Bikinis here.