Shibori (絞り) are the traditional techniques used to create unique patterns on kimonos. This includes binding, stitching, folding or twisting the fabric before dyeing it. Unbinding the fabric creates complex patterns and unique three-dimensional textures.
Shibori requires specialized skills and is a very labor-intensive process, which is why there are craftsmen in Japan who specialize in this technique. It’s recognized as one of the most valuable kimono styles.
What’s the difference between Shibori and Tie-Dye?
Many things! While both shibori and tie-dye are popular resist dyeing methods that prevent (or “resist”) the dye from pigmenting parts of the fabric, they have very different histories and use very different techniques.
While many different dyeing techniques developed around the world, shibori techniques originated in Japan and were popularized during the Edo Period from the 17th -19th centuries.
Shibori also has a wide variety of techniques and its small, fine bindings create distinctive three-dimensional textures and delicate patterns that you can’t find anywhere else.
Tie-dye, on the other hand, is an American resist-dyeing technique known for using many vibrant colors in one project. It was made popular in the 1960s by counter-culture musicians, artists, and teens of the time. By the 1970s, it had become a widespread, inexpensive method of customizing bland white tees.
In general, there aren’t many rules on what makes something tie-dye like there are for shibori. Shibori are treasured techniques and create kimono styles that are distinctly Japanese!