The Future of Shopping for Cloths

Shopping for clothes online has this one very big disadvantage – you can’t try it on and look at yourself in the mirror!

Getting a feel for the fabric is another point that still needs to be overcome; but with close-up images and a good description, maybe comparing it to other fabrics the customer likely will know, that does not appear to be the biggest problem.

Now comes a little video from Cisco – the networking equipment company – that puts big hope in the heart of all online clothing stores:

JustZen, the sponsor of this blog, so far did not have much trouble with returns but they still dream of a plugin for the web browser that turns on the web cam of the shopper’s computer after the shopper clicks ‘Preview’, and a friendly voice asks her to stand up, stand back three feet and just shows on screen how that wrap dress would look on her.

Combine that with the computer connected to the big-screen TV and we are nearly there.

Miley Cyrus in our tie-Dye?

Our whole family has watched Miley Cyrus’ Disney Show Hanna Montana pretty much from the  beginning and we all like it (especially our nine year old son) – even though I think the coolest person in the show is Daddy – sorry to all you Miley-only fans, but at least it’s the real daddy so the genes are right.

Recently I ran into a nice image of Miley, probably taken somewhere in the greater Los Angeles area – anybody know where exactly? – which I liked…

Miley Cyrus

…even though I think the t-shirt is a bit boring.

Allow me to dream my dream that all star, starlets and celebrities are eager to wear the mudmee tie-dye we offer the world.  I am sure that, if they would find out about us, would certainly be true anyways.

I have already started to dress one of our female astronauts properly for her accomplishments in space and so now it was Miley’s turn to be chiqued up.

Out came good old photoshop and suddenly we have some exquisitely dressed Miley Cyrus…

Miley Cyrus in tie-dye by JustZen

I would have loved to dress Miley in one of our all natural cotton skirts – but that would have taxed my photoshop abilities too much, so instead here you have Destinee modeling one of the mudmee skirts.

Destinee in JustZen-skirt

She looks a bit like Miley anyways and even is the same age. She and her friend actually came to us offering to model for us – cool, huh?

tie-dye 2.0

In the good old days a product was created and then sold – and that was it. OK, in the car market new and better models came out every so often, but a new model year could not really be seen as different versions of the same car.

But with the advent of software this changed. Software was so fast in its development cycle that programs were released before they were actually ready for prime time. A software publisher could not possibly admit to the fact that he had released an unfinished product and so the version was invented.

Iterations like version 1.0, 1.1, 1.4 etc were common. Often, when the publisher finally got it right a major version step was introduced – version 2.0.

Tongue in cheek we now call the mudmee tie-dye from “Tie-dye 2.0” – indicating that the good old hippie tie-dye worked and got the job done, but that only now, with the arrival of “Tie-dye 2.0” we finally got it right.

Here is a little video that tells the story…

The History of Tie-Dye

Today, when we think of tie-dye, we automatically imagine the sixties and seventies with their peace movements, flower power and Woodstock. However, the art of dying fabrics and specifically tie-dying goes far back in time. Men has always had the urge to adorn him or herself. Nature is full of colors and very early on it was understood that those colors nature offered could be used to beautify the clothes one wore.

Traditional KimonoChina and Japan had fully developed the art of tie-dye as early as the sixth century AD, about one and a half millennia ago. Hemp and silk which are very receptive to dying had become available and made this outstanding art possible. Instead of dying the finished garment some tribes in Central America, South East Asia and Western China dyed the threads before weaving. Technically this was not tie-dye but the beauty of the designs that appeared was striking as were the patterns done with tie-dying.

Today we are used to synthetic dyes that are easy to use because they are safe, long lasting and quick setting, but in the early days dyes had to be extracted from nature. Sources of these dyes were roots, berries and the flowers and leaves of a variety of plants like blackberries, safflower, marigold, sage, indigo and many others. Some of these natural dyes are still used today. They are of very great interest to the artist who work in close proximity to nature and who promotes organic fabric and clothing. As a fiber used for the dyed clothing, natural materials offer themselves very prevalently as they take the dye much better than many synthetic fibers.

During the Momoyama period, which lasted for about 30 years at the end of the 16th century, a new fiber-art form developed which combined tie-dye with ornamental drawing. This art form spanned the whole gamut from a piece consisting of mostly tie-dye on one end to large un-dyed areas for drawing flower, tree and landscape designs on the other end of the spectrum.

In Japan this form was used to create kimonos awarded to officers by the warlords in recognition of special bravery in battle with neighboring adversaries. These kimonos were a very valuable family possession and have often been passed down from generation to generation. Today many of those art pieces can be found in museums. The natural dyes might have faded but the depicted designs are still magnificent.

It is interesting to notice that a few centuries later tie-dye became the symbol of non-conflict, understanding and peace. This generation of baby boomers is now in a position where it has time to reflect after their most productive time in life, and we notice a growing interest and a revival of tie-dye. Often today’s tie-dye pieces are of much higher art value than the sixties Woodstock t-shirts and in particular when combined with the traditional Asian Mudmee tie-dye, garments become wearable art.

Adventures in Tie-Dye

Today we have a guest story from Jason B. from Austin, Texas:

Having grown up during the flower-power days, tie-dye had always had a fascination for me. This is the story on how I finally got my act together and got right into the adventure of tie-dye. Not only the adventure of finding the right shop to buy my next shirt, but experiencing the exhilaration of creating one of those great pieces of clothing myself.

It all started one lazy Sunday afternoon with nothing to do but either hanging out with some friends or watching some re-run show on TV. I had more or less decided on the former and got into my closet to put on another shirt when one of those darn tie-dye t-shirts caught my eye.

Something happened within me and I abandoned the idea that I had only two choices what to do with myself and decided right there that this will be a more interesting afternoon. I wanted to make my own tie-dye shirt!

I had once, in the past, half-heartedly attempted to get my mind around the techniques used to tie-dye and invested in some books. They must be still somewhere! Fortunately my apartment was not too big and did not have too many places where a few book can hide. It only took about 10 minutes until I had unearthed one of those books.

I more or less skipped over the first chapter, which gave a bit of history of dyeing in general, then going into the specifics of tying before dyeing. Then it got interesting, showing the different ways on how to tie a t-shirt to create the different patterns.

Not everything I needed was in the house so I had to rush out to get rubber bands, string and other assorted little things the book told me about. I opted not to try to find the dyes but order them on-line after I had my shirts all tied up.

There were decisions to be made if I should go with dyes that are applied in a cold solution or one that requires a warm bath, and I thought that I would need more time to study the pros and cons of the options some more. But what I did get was a dozen of plain white t-shirts. I went with the 100% cotton because I had learned that those would take the dyes best. I also  found, on sale, one nice sweat jacket that I hope I will be able to convert into one just like the ones offered at this site, having really nice and colorful tie-dye jackets, which has been a great inspiration for me.

Two hours later I was back at my place with everything I would need to get creative. And that I did. I took one t-shirt and folded horizontal pleats to – hopefully – end up with horizontal stripes and then I thought that I better also make one with vertical pleats because vertical stripes make you appear slimmer and that would probably be good for me.

Finally, when midnight was not that far away any more, I had to put things away as the lazy Sunday, which had turned out to be a rather productive Sunday, would be over soon and work was expecting me full of energy.

I ended up with five t-shirts with different methods of tying as the book had taught me. I have mentioned above the site with these hooded jackets, and I also looked at one of the tie-dye t-shirts they have, made with the same techniques, and I even tried tying to get something like this. Only when I will do the dyeing on of the next lazy Sundays will I know if I succeeded.

I’m proud of myself today that I turned a lazy Sunday into such a productive day and that’s why I thought I write this little article to remind me again later how much better a Sunday can be if it’s not lazy.