Tie-dying and hand dyeing fashion was not just a 60s craze.  In the 60s it became mainstream in the west, however it’s a fashion statement that hasn’t gone away, nor should it! Continuously in fashion and in trend decade after decade, to even designer brands like Gucci and Versace wanting to be part of the fun, this style of women’s fashion is here to stay. To this very day, celebrities like model Alessandra Ambrosio, Carmen Electra to Justin Bieber are rocking out in hand dyed clothing. But before we started having fun with hand dyeing and its sister-style, tie-dyeing, there was the Shibori dyeing technique to thank for all this. Shibori hand dyeing is much more articulated and crafted than is tie dying – not to confuse the two methods.



Shibori is a method of hand dyeing clothing. Rather than tie-dye, which requires very little effort using different coloured inks dropped on the item while they sit in water after they’ve been rubber banded together, Shibori is all about the way you tie together the article of clothing.  The more complicated the cloth is squeezed and wrung, the more complicated and intricate the pattern of the dye appears.  Patterns and designs are beautiful and one-of-a-kind and never repetitive. The string (or whatever is used to tie up the item) can be tied simply or complicated, one or ten strings, each having a special role in the way everything turns out. Methodically placed strings can create ombre effects, flowers; even water ripples on a shirt.


Shibori hand dyeing began in Japan during a period of time when lower-class people were not allowed to wear rich fabrics such as silk. Instead they focused on designing elaborate patterns on strong fabrics such as denim to decorate their clothes.  To this day, many people are still creating designs on clothing using the Shibori techniques. Only now, the west has fallen in love and embracing the method having everyone wanting to show them off them! How could one not want to show off the inspiring images they contain?



Over the years artisans have expanded the skill of using the Shibori technique, creating intricate pieces sold at very reasonable prices.  Much focus on detail goes into perfecting the different designs.  Some clothing articles have beautiful pictures methodically hand dyed into them creating one-of-a-kind patterns. The creations are endless!


With such creativity, one can find all sorts of things being hand dyed such as:

  • dresses
  • skirts
  • blouses
  • tanks

The expansion of hand dyeing clothing even includes:

  • tunics
  • wraps
  • hoodies
  • tights/leggings
  • shorts
  • capri pants
  • sweats
  • haram pants
  • moon skirts
  • accessories like scarves, headbands, baby sets, wine carriers, beach suits, tote bags, pillow cases, socks and journals



Rather using harmful chemicals that could potentially leak into environment, these are made from eco-friendly ink and fabrics. The cotton is made from locally-grown cotton partaking in the help to prevent transportation pollution.  Owners of Steel Pony are aware of the dangers and the negative impact that clothing making can cause on the environment, worsening the deterioration of the environment.  Instead of using harmful inks and fabrics that are not environmentally friendly, such as animal skins and some fabrics that pollute the sewers and oceans with the hundreds of thousands of plastic particles they exude after washes, they use reusable and organic cotton.

Even better still, is that all the materials involved in the making of hand dyeing the clothes are made, sourced and manufactured within the States.  And not just any fabric is chosen when working with them. Choosing only materials and fabrics that are naturally sustainable and environmentally friendly are used to make the high quality clothing, as well as long lasting. When the items are dyed, they are not outsourced to an unknown warehouse where procedures are not seen or managed. Instead they’re dyed at the location where owners see and are personally responsible behind the great excellence of the clothes. Not only is the clothes dyed by the owners, the ink is made at the location as well. No secret and dangerous ingredients, just eco-friendly ingredients in each ink are used to remain behind the passion of keeping green.

Any of the fashionable items are a work of art from the designer, straight from the creation of their mind all while protecting the environment.



Hand dyeing clothing is for everyone.  From businessperson to hippy, people love this artistic and classical style.  You can be comfortable and presentable with any of the items. Some call this the chic-modern-boho look that will stay in style for years to come. The artisan behind the making of the items is exclusive to each article of clothing made because they’re each made by hand one at a time.  No one clothing will be identical, as are the items made in mass amounts by machines in warehouses. Here, each item has their own rare design just as rare as an individual’s fingerprints. Everything is made with delicate care, much attention and traditional procedures creating and crafting artisanal pieces.  

The best part of creating each piece by hand is the control that goes into each. When the clothing is tied in a specific way you can assure certain patterns will result by the way they’re tied. By doing this there is control in the amount of dye that goes into them, or distributing the ink only on the portion of the clothing that is desired. Whether it’s the entire skirt that contains gorgeous indigo blue, or the hemline surrounding the skirt that has the patterns, or just down the sides of a cute pair of leggings; the options are available because of the control. The possibilities of the designs are endless and because as stated earlier, each design is a product of the designer’s creativity, each holds the value of the artist’s work.


Besides being in fashion, on trend and styling in your wardrobe, being part of artisanal work pieces is so much more than just buying a pair of pants. Buy with meaning, with purpose, for a cause and of course with support to items that are artisan, sustainable and unique. And duh! To look fabulous in too!

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Hi I am Joanne Litz Cofounder of Steel Pony.
I graduated in Textile Design from, the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science. Worked in the "Industry" as a design director before starting Steel Pony. A company focused on slow sustainable fashion over 30 years ago
I love Creative Fashion, Art, and Energy Healing. My mission is to help women find their inner goddess and shine from the inside out.