It doesn’t cost the earth
The fibres of the hemp plant have been used to make fabric for centuries, archaeologists have discovered remnants of hemp cloth from 8000 BC.
Hemp fibre has a rich and fascinating history, in Elizabethan times hemp was considered such a valuable resource that if you had land, by law, you had to grow hemp or face a fine, this was also the case for early settlers in the US. The word ‘canvas’ is actually derived from the word cannabis, as hemp was used to make sail canvas. Columbus sailed to the new world with hemp sails. Levi jeans were traditionally made from hemp and their autumn 2020 collection is going back to its original hemp roots which is fantastic. Companies around the world are taking note of hemp as an ethical and sustainable alternative to meet the growing consumer demand for greener choices. The material that hemp produces has all the benefits of natural fibres. The fabric breathes and is thermo regulating, warming you up when you are cold or cooling you down when you are too hot.
Hemp fabric is incredibly tough and durable yet kind to even the most sensitive of skin. People missing out on cosy woolly jumpers because of a wool allergy (and vegans) can enjoy a cosy hemp jumper. The fabric gets softer and softer with each wear, hemp wears in – it doesn’t wear out!
We have customers returning years later to replace their ‘favourite’ t shirt. We joke that we do ourselves out of return customers because the stuff lasts too long, but they come back eventually – and hopefully tell all their friends!
We have noticed a lot of people are surprised by how soft it is. There is often a preconceived notion that it will be rough and hessian like, yet 100% hemp fabric is very similar to linen. It can also be mixed with other fabrics from cotton to silk.
Hemp is most often mixed with cotton and using just half of hemp in a cotton mix T-shirt saves 100 gallons £450 litres) of water. The hemp plant, like the fabric it produces is extremely hardy, it can be grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides and in a huge variety of climates and soil types, even on very poor soil, which it actually improves, so the benefits of using hemp fabric are incredible.
Besides the environmental benefits of the growing process, as society moves away from throwaway fashion hemp clothes are durable and long lasting. Hemp is an investment for your wardrobe and the planet.
Once reserved for hippy clothes and head shops hemp is now once again seen as quality fabric and has been used by Gucci and Adidas.
Companies like Thought do a fantastic range of stylish on trend hemp clothes. They are beautiful clothes anyway, the fact they are made from eco fabrics is almost a bonus.
Hemp is the strongest natural fibre, unbelievably tough and highly resistant to stretching. Since we started The Hemp Store, we have sold Sativa bags which, as well as being stylish and practical, last years longer than their cotton counterparts. We were delighted when a young woman came back to tell us with pride that she had just returned from travelling with her hemp Postman Bag. In her own words it had been “dragged around the world” with all her “stuff” in “for seven years” And while it was definitely starting to look a bit tatty it was still in one piece and she couldn’t believe it. On regaling this story on our Facebook page, we were met with many comments “had mine 10 years and still going strong” and others of a similar nature.
Our acid test was my younger brother who refused to use his school locker and instead carried everything in his backpack. He was averaging a bag a term, but his Sativa Classic Rucksack lasted him through many terms to see him complete his schooling!
Thankfully, more and more people are getting switched on to environmental issues and sustainable fashion is a good way to start. This vastly misunderstood plant which is considered by many to be nature’s gift is rightly coming into mainstream consciousness.
As it stands there is extremely limited fabric production in the UK. The hemp grown here is mainly used for horse bedding and building materials, most hemp fabric is imported from other countries.
The growing of hemp is heavily licensed, and the complicated process can put off would be farmers of hemp. A lot of this is tied into the archaic drug association that hemp has been saddled with when the fact is that growing hemp benefits everything from the land to the consumer.
There is a long way to go, but we are making a good start. With greener times on the horizon we can hopefully look forward to hemp being grown and used more and more.
We now very rarely get, what used to be an almost daily comment “Can I smoke the t shirt?” Because most people now realise that hemp is so much more than that. As one of our original t shirts stated – Don’t Panic! It’s Organic!