Celebrating 100 Years of Rit

From the free spirited days of tie dye to the subtle nuances of dip dyeing, we have been on a ceaseless mission to deliver enduringly beautiful color to your most loved fabrics. For 100 years, and counting. Below, we highlight what a trip it has been.


Shortly before World War I, entrepreneur Charles Huffman began experimenting with fabric dyes for use in the home. His timing was fortuitous as America had just got cut off from its primary source of dyes — Germany. Huffman named his new product Rit in honor of a friend, Louis L. Rittenhouse, who helped the new company financially and became its first vice president. The trademark, Rit, and the slogan “Never Say ‘Dye’… Say Rit!” was registered.


By 1922, Rit extended its production to Chicago, Jersey City, Los Angeles and Toronto, which enabled it to introduce a full color lineup. Colors included: Old Rose, Dark Blue, Orange, Purple, Dark Grey, Orchid, Light Green, Peach, Black, Pink, Coral, Dark Brown, Rose Pink, Light Blue, Yellow, Ecru, Navy Blue, Light Grey, Dark Green, Golden Brown, Emerald Green and Scarlet.


Rit Color Remover was introduced for bleaching fabrics prior to dyeing. Now, customers could completely change the color of their fabrics.


All-Purpose Rit was introduced. This was a particularly valuable development because synthetic fabrics were beginning to come on the market and the dyes which had been successfully used on natural fabrics (like wool, cotton, linen and silk) did not work effectively with synthetics, like nylon and rayon. All-Purpose Rit was developed to work on these fabrics and was credited with pulling the whole dye business out of a slump.


The introduction of the automatic washing machine after World War II made it feasible to dye large objects, such as bedspreads, drapes and rugs at home. For this purpose, larger sized packages of All-Purpose Rit were introduced. The phrase “Push Button Color” was developed to demonstrate Rit’s ease of use when used in a washing machine.


One of our favorite ad campaigns, “I Didn’t Buy It, I Dyed It” launched.


Don Price, a marketer at Rit, saw an opportunity to introduce the brand to some creative types he’d located in Greenwich Village. He advised Rit to replace its boxed powders with squeezable liquid dyes, better for creating multicolor designs. And when he heard about Woodstock, he funded artists to make several hundred tie-dye T-shirts to be sold at the festival. Rit became the official hippie dye. The arrival of a generation of young people interested in psychedelic patterns provided Rit with a great new target market.


Tie-dye far outlasted the Summer of Love. Rit ushered the look into high fashion, encouraging designers to incorporate tie-dye fabrics by Rit-approved artists Will and Eileen Richardson into their collections. Model Marisa Berenson posed in a tie-dyed kaftan by Halston in Vogue in 1970, and Ali McGraw was spotted in a tie-dye blouse while walking down Fifth Avenue the following year. Soon, kids were hosting tie-dye parties in suburban backyards across America.


This ad was created. We just love it.


With the incredible growth in popularity of polyester, polyester cotton blends, acrylic and acetate, Rit needed a new dye to work on these fabrics and materials. Rit DyeMore for Synthetics was developed and launched with an initial 12 shades. Rit was now able to dye synthetics, which included not just clothing, but also plastics like 3D printed objects and lacrosse heads.


Rit launches new modern packaging to celebrate its 100th year in business!

Explore Our History in Ads

We send awesome emails.

We send awesome emails.

We send awesome emails.

Be the first to know about new products, dye techniques and more!
{{ formErrors('newsletter-modal', 'email') }}
{{ formErrors('newsletter-modal', 'other') }}
Thank you for subscribing!
Thank you for subscribing!