Quality in tie dye: Pt. 1 Quality Perceptions

Quality in tie dye: Pt. 1 Quality Perceptions

Quality in tie dye: Pt. 1 Quality Perceptions


Tie dye can be considered art or apparel; it depends who you ask. To me and the rest of the community of passionate dye-wizards, it’s art––more than just a piece of dyed cloth to wear. With tie dye suspended in the middle of these two categories, it’s hard to determine its merit. Even its function is so intrinsically open to interpretation.


In the clothing industry, there are two different ways someone can perceive quality: on a consumer-based level or a manufacturer-based level (Crosby, 1972). These two approaches are very different and do not commonly meet in the middle. A consumer might consider a variable of quality to be affordability, while the manufacturer might emphasize the difficulty of the production process. There is  always a disconnection between the customer and the producer of  the clothing as to what defines “quality,” (Morgan, 1985).


When it comes to tie dye, this interference is common between the buyer and the artist. In 1985, three different elements were found to be paramount to creating quality products.  First was the skillful effort, next sound materials, and third the painstaking method that goes into making the clothing. These three attributes can be used to evaluate quality of tie dye, too. The brand of clothing someone uses, the recipe for dying, and manner in which the item is tied can all be determinants of quality perception. These also would be the only three aspects someone would most likely consider when buying a mass produced tie dye at a store, as opposed to a piece of art (Holbrook & Corfman).


In addition to being a textile, tie dye is an art. When it comes to art, there are typically five means of critiquing it. These characteristics include aesthetic beauty, skill, inherent meaning, uniqueness, and fulfillment of artistic intention (emptyeasel.com). Each of these variables, used in conjunction with the three used to determine quality in clothing, can be used to make a much more comprehensive assessment of tie dye (as opposed to using either method in isolation). Most people will just think of it being another piece of clothing in their closet rather than an artistic canvas handcrafted with highly concentrated dye and precision.


Why does all this quality perception matter? The reason it’s important is to set a standard to tell something apart from being good or bad when it’s a subjective matter like art (or tie dye). From a personal standpoint, I’m not going be “politically correct” to sugar coat someone’s work to say it’s “different”, or rationalize why it can be considered quality work. If something is bad, it’s better to judge it and have the artist take constructive criticism to better themselves.


Another importance to analyzing this unique art is to help people look at tie dye as an art just as much as they look at it as a product. In order to perceive tie dye as something more than just a textile, consumers must understand the process of creating the product. This can be accomplished by introducing them to a high skilled and artistic style of dying. That’s why the second part of the article will go into more detail using specific examples of quality in various tie dye from around the country (and even world). Using these examples I will bring up how these pieces of art match up with the textile and art quality assessments mentioned earlier.





Crosby, P. B. (1972), “Consumer Preference: Good, Better, Best,” National Academy of Engineering (Ed.) Product Quality, Performance, and Cost: A Workshops Arranged by the National Academy of Engineering, Washington, DC: National Academy of Engineering, pp. 23-36.


Holbrook, M. P., & Corfman, K.P. (1985), “Quality and Value in the Consumption Experience: Phaedrus Rides Again,” in J. Jacoby & J.C. Olsen (Eds.), Perceived Quality, Lexington, MA: D.C Heath and Co., pp. 31-57.



Morgan, L. A. (1985), “ The Importance of Quality,” in J. Jacoby & J. Olsen (Eds.) Perceived Quality, Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Co. , pp. 61-64.


Unknown. (2006), “How to Judge Art: Five Qualities you can Critique whether you’re an Artist or not”, Art Business Advice. Retrieved from http://emptyeasel.com/2006/11/18/how-to-judge-art-five-qualities-you-can-critique/

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