The future of fashion might be in hemp crops and here is why.
Unfortunately for this beautiful plant when we think hemp most of us will think marijuana, getting high, illegal and that’s probably it. But did you know that hemp has been used for thousands of years and we can go back until Neolithic Age in China? Yes, hemp has been around for so much time and have been actually “banned” just for couples of decades out of thousands.
At once, hemp was one of the most used fibre for garments and textile in general and it might have been the first plant grown for its textile attributes.
Hemp reigned through until the Middle Ages. It all started to change at the end of the 18th century.
The growth of cotton arrived! The mechanical cotton gin just invented, it made harvesting so much easier and cotton fibres with it. So, at that point, you might think, “Alright, but hemp industry can still grow, cannot it”; and it is what George Schlichten planned with his patent of a machine which would allow hemp to rival cotton but oddly him and his machine felt into oblivion and did not leave any trace in the recorded history…. (If you want to know more about George Schlichten invention this article resumes it pretty well).
To get it over hemp, why not to add a propaganda set up by big firms to ensure their interest in petroleum based synthetic fibres? Does it sound like the power is always more or less in the hands of lobbyists? Perhaps. But in the second half of the 20th century hemp industry gave almost its last breath with the coup de grace from the lobbyists from synthetic textile companies who put hemp under a drug label which would need decades to be removed, and still sticks to hemp today. Those companies felt endangered by the potential of hemp, so they took on a campaign and fabricated evidences of a health dangerousness of hemp plant, “forgetting” to mention the existence of two different strains of cannabis, the “marijuana” hemp not being the strain of cannabis used for hemp’s clothing fibres which actually has no value as a recreational drug. (If you want to know more about this conspiracy of the petrochemical consortium and the wood industry the Book “The emperor wears no clothes” by Jack Herer can be interesting to read).
Let’s return to the subject. We got that hemp could not become the crop of today for several reasons but why it would be an awesome idea to bring hemp back in the front of the scene?
THE ADVANTAGES OF HEMP
X Hemp is UV resistant; how good is that? So it is perfect for outdoor activities
X Hemp is the most durable fibre you can find. In fact, it is 3 times more durable than cotton. If we consider that everyone wears hemp clothes, it would mean that we could cut by a third our use of land and resources to make garments.
X Hemp does not create static, simply because it has got the same static charge than human skin, therefore it is in alignment with our electromagnetic fields.
X Hemps is resistant to insects and diseases, so it does not require fertilizers or pesticides; it is a weed.
X Hemp is super versatile. We used to think that hemp fibres are thick burlap like fibres, but it is not the case anymore. Today you can create different kind of fabrics. The kind of fibre will simply depend of the region where the plant grows and according to the climate you will have a fibre better for soft or for robust fabrics.
Moreover, it can easily be blend with other fibres like silk or cotton to make the attire comfier.
X Hemp is a carbon negative plant as it absorbs CO2; actually even more than trees – just amazing.
X Hemp returns over 70% of the nutrients it used to the soil
X Hemp requires half less water and land than cotton. Thus, we could harvest 250% more fibres if we would substitute cotton with hemp.
X Hemp creates really strong fibres which enables to the attire to stretch less than other natural fibres, to reduce distortion and merely to hold its shape.
X Hemp is resistant to mould
X Hemp being porous it gives a breathability to the fabric keeping you warm in winter and cool in hotter months.
X Hemp is a cost-effective plant and therefore cheaper to produce for the farmers as it does not need much care, it grows fast, it can actually be harvest up to three times per year, and you can get until 10 tons of fibres per acre in couple of months
Still not convinced?
X It is a zero-waste plant! The stems are used to create fibres and the seeds are used for oil or food supplements
X You can make a lot of things like clothes – dresses, shirts, jeans…, accessories – hats, bags, as well as ropes, skin care products, paper, canvas, food, building materials and so on
Nowadays, China is the leader in the production of hemp fabric and they use chemical methods to process hemp which highlights the fact that even if hemp sounds like the perfect fibre it can still be somehow “dirty”. Consequently, it is still important to check the production chain of the hemp brands when possible.
However, producers in Europe use more and more a cleaner alternative with a biologically-based enzyme technology.
Besides, the yield is way better than for cotton or grains which is great in some ways, but hopefully if in the future hemp becomes a much-used fibre it will not become like many other industries all about productivity and dollars without even considering the humans being the scene.
To conclude with some optimism, mainstream brands like Patagonia, Adidas or Quiksilver have incorporated hemp in some of their products, which will help to make hemp more famous as a comfortable garment fibre.
Nevertheless, there is still a fair bit to do as industrial hemp fields are still prohibited in most of the world. So if you want to help farmers, organisations and activists to change it you can go on Vote Hemp, a U.S. organisation for example, to help them to change the laws and the misconception.
If I managed to convert you to hemp clothing, following are some eco-clothing brands which offer hemp clothes and I believe are worth to have a look. Many styles already exist, and I am pretty sure you can find your first hemp clothes there or discover a new brand you did not know if you are already a hemp aficionado:
Have you ever worn a garment made from hemp or at least partially made of hemp? How did you feel? Would be nice to have your testimonial 🙂