Jonathon Spagat, the creative director of Rit—the century-old dye manufacturer which became the tie dye of record in the 1960s—says Rit’s Indianapolis factory can’t produce dye fast enough to satisfy its customers. The company shut down its direct online sales after orders jumped an estimated 800% between April and July compared to the same period last year, to prioritize orders from retailers hungry for dye.

“It’s been a struggle. We are so in-demand and we just cannot keep up with it at all,” says Spagat, who estimates that Rit produces between 50,000 and 60,000 bottles of dye per day. “You can go to any Joann’s, Michael’s, or Target. Most likely the shelves will be empty.” 

Spagat says the colors driving sales have shifted this summer. Last summer was all about black, charcoal, and navy. Now, everyone seems to be seeking optimism in the forms of aquamarine and rose quartz. “Our pinks have never done that well. All of a sudden they’re in the top 10,” says Spagat. Neutrals are also big  and got a boost from Instagram influencer Danielle Bernstein, of @weworewhat, who showed her 2.5 million followers how to dye their own sweatsuits in April.

Some DIYers have found themselves with cottage industries on their hands. Shannon, a 23-year old accounting auditor behind the Instagram account @live_and_dye_la (who wishes to keep her surname private), wrote in a direct message that what started as a project for herself while stuck at home in Beverly Hills escalated when her 30-year-old sister wanted some pieces—and then her sister’s friends did too. Now, anyone can place an order through a Google form, and Shannon estimates she has sold 400 of her varied masks, hoodies and tees.

Nandita Khanna, who also lives in Los Angeles and is the content director for the CBD company Feals, started tie-dyeing last summer, and brought her hobby to new heights with the purchase of a dye kit from Upstate, an upscale line of hand-dyed textiles in March following stay-at-home orders.

“I was looking for something to do that wasn’t baking banana bread,” says Khanna with a laugh. She shared her exploits on Instagram, “as one does,” and soon her friends were DMing with requests. Khanna has since started selling $30 tees and $24 socks—just enough to cover the costs of materials and Upstate’s botanical dyes—in faded shades of rose and indigo, and just dyed a batch of bandanas for a local magazine’s pop-up store.

Trends aside, Khanna, Shannon, and Sikhounmuong all tout the mental health benefits of tie dyeing. 

“In the way that someone might go for a run to clear their head, I actually find dyeing to be incredibly therapeutic,” says Khanna. “I’m someone who is always looking for order and seeking perfection in her life, and so this process has been really fun: deciding the colors, the randomness of it, and then actually how beautiful it can be in its imperfections … You don’t know exactly what you’re going to get when you unwrap it.”

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