Hemp. The answer to the need for sustainable materials in today’s fashion industry! Now time to learn about the eco-friendly fabric that has the attention of designer’s everywhere.
What does hemp fabric feel and look like?
The hemp fabric is comprised of long strands of fiber within the stalk of the plant and looks somewhat similar to a horse’s mane before it’s processed. Hemp’s durability and strength allows clothes that are made from it to last longer.
Unfortunately, hemp’s benefits have led to misconceptions that hemp clothing is rigid and uncomfortable. While clothing made from 100% hemp can be less comfortable than 100% cotton, designers who have been able to blend hemp with other fabrics have been able to maintain hemp’s benefits, while adding the softness of other fabrics.
Hemp’s culture vs cannabis culture
Commonly referred to as “marijuana’s cousin”, this name detracts from all the benefits that the hemp fabric offers. “A high percentage of citizens do not know the difference between industrial hemp and cannabis, and get the two mixed up frequently,” Sarah Hayes, director of material development at outdoor clothing company Patagonia, told Hypebeast.
But what does the law say about hemp?
Like it’s alleged “cousin” marijuana, hemp is part of the cannabis genesis of plants. In the US, the legalization of industrial hemp in December 2018 allows US farmers to receive government subsidies to farm the crop. Along with the stigma, most social media networks ban the promoting of hemp products on their platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Hemp vs Cotton: Environmental Impacts
Hemp requires half the acreage of cotton and produces up to 3x more fiber than cotton on the same amount of land. It can take up to 2,700 liters of water to make a single 100% cotton t-shirt *that’s enough water for one person to drink for 2.5 years*.
Hemp was planted around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, to help clean the polluted sites. Clothing made from hemp, offers many benefits a 100% cotton shirt does not, such as: antimicrobial, moisture-wicking, hypoallergenic, thermoregulating, uv-resistant and is highly durable.
So why isn’t hemp more popular in the retail world?
Simply put, hemp has not had the same support across the clothing industry that it’s mainstream counterparts such as cotton, has had and that has inhibited it’s widespread growth. This lower demand has resulted in increased prices.
Hemp also wrinkles very easily and doesn’t offer the most vast selection of colors, unless blended with other fabrics.
While this may be true in 2020, there have been recent developments in manufacturing processes that are making the hemp fibers softer. If these processes become adopted in the clothing industry, it would allow price of hemp fabric to decrease and allow for the potential for hemp to be a leader in the fabric market sooner, rather than later.
What is the conception of hemp in 2020?
With the legalization of growing, processing and selling hemp in the US, hemp’s popularity has started to grow as their has been increasing pressure on fashion brands to create eco-friendly clothing, which has resulted in more companies experimenting with hemp as a fabric in their clothing.
The US Farm Bill drastically improved the amount of hemp being in products and fast-tracked it’s incorporation into the fashion industry as a fabric.