Shibori is the Japanese art of dying fabric and garments using a technique of resist dying that produces intricate patterns. It is an ancient art in Japan that dates back to around the 8th century. Shibori would be familiar to most modern westerners as Tie-Dye. Although Shibori and Tie-Dye use basically the same techniques to creates patterns on clothing the results are very different. The Cherry Shibori Necktie and the Cherry Shibori Batwing Bow Tie by Olaf Olsson are not made from traditionally dyed Shibori fabric, but both ties use motifs that contain a number of traditional Shibori patterns.


In the United States most people are familiar with the term Tie-Dye, a term that became popular in the 1960’s. Tie-dying referred to garments that were covered in colorful and artful patterns that were created by taking garments and folding, crumpling, twisting, and then binding with string or rubber bands. Once bound the garment is dipped in dye. The places where the garment is bound resist the dye and create organic patterns.

While many people know about Tie-Dying, most people in the Americas don’t realize that Tie-Dye has its roots in ancient history. The technique of binding and dying fabric and garments to create patterns date back thousands of years and examples of the technique can be found throughout the world. Some of the earliest examples of Tye-Dye date back to Pre-Columbian Peru (500-810ad), but there are plenty of examples also from around the globe including the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Africa, India, and Japan.


Shibori is labor intensive and includes actions such as stitching elaborate patterns and gathering the stitching up before dying. This creates distinct and elaborate geometric patterns. Traditionally Shibori is dyed with Indigo dye, giving it a distinct blue color. Shibori was widely used to decorate fabric for Kimonos. Some of the many specific Shibori techniques include Kumo shibori, Nui shibori, Arashi shibori, Itajime shibori, Ne-maki shibori, Kanoko shibori, and Miura shibori. Each version use different methods of binding, tying, gathering, and stitching to create very individual patterns.

Here is a link to some of the tools and techniques involved in Shibori 


If you look closely at the patterns on the fabric used for the Cherry Shibori necktie and batwing bow tie by Olaf Olsson you will see a number of motifs that are taken directly from Shibori patterns. The light blue and white geometric patterns are reminiscent of Itajime and Kumo shibori, while the patterns of small dots are reminiscent of Kanoko and Ne-maki shibori

Check out our Pinterest Board on Shibori

January 29, 2017 — Olaf Olsson