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With the tribal trend all the rage, ikat is definitely having a moment. It’s cropping up on everything from hand-tufted rugs to breezy summer scarves. Here’s a little background on the ethnic-inspired design you’ll be seeing splashed all over this summer.

Ikat – pronounced “ee-kat” – is one of the world’s oldest traditions in textile decoration, traced back to 15th-century South America. Variations of the tribal print were also central to cultures across India and Asia, with each developing their own designs independently.

The traditional technique involves dip-dyeing threads prior to weaving the fabric. To differentiate colors, bindings are tied around the threads before they are dipped – quite similar to how elastic bands are used to block color when tie-dyeing. The threads are then woven together to reveal the abstract geometric patterns the runways have been going wild for.

By Jillian Hudon, Staff Writer

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June 25, 2013