The year 2020 became the year of going back to the basics and living life in circumspect. The global outbreak of the pandemic made us realise the importance of the ecosystem, and how not to mess with it. People became aware of the choices they made in every aspect of their lives - way of living, spending and eating habits, and in even what they wore, thereby making conscious efforts for sustainable clothing.
Hemp is a sustainable fibre and a constructive alternative to the fast-fashion-fabrics. It is believed to be the first fibre used for human clothing ever since the 1600s, where it was mainly used for industrial purposes. Organic hemp clothing is now getting recognition in the fashion industry due to its high degree of biodegradability and being one of the strongest natural fibres in the world. Clothing made from hemp fibre is considered to be the best possible substitute available today in the sustainable market.
Here is a list of few famous facts about hemp clothing so it gets its due respect and recognition in the marketplace.
1.It is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species, which is known to common man as Marijuana.
2.The use of cannabis has been a witness of medicinal usage since ages.
3.Hemp seeds and its oil are proven to be absolutely fit for human consumption. It is also highly rich in protein.
4.Hemp majorly used to have industrial purposes earlier (the US constitution has been written on paper made with hemp), but now with the progress of scientific industries and sorts, innovators have ventured into clothing, accessories as well as home décor.
5.China is the largest hemp producer all over the world.
6.In 2017, India legalised hemp-cultivation in Uttarakhand and the Indian government gave permission to finally grow organic hemp fibre.
The versatile, sustainable hemp fabric is used either as a primary or a secondary raw material in manufacturing products. Needless to say, hemp clothing is already being used in making apparels and accessories. Apart from clothing, it is also used in making other sustainable hemp products such as ropes, sail canvas, paper products, wood, building material, biofuel, plastic polymers (bioplastics), car components… the list is increasing slowly but surely every day. Hemp dresses, tops, and trousers for women, shirts and trousers for men; every piece of clothing can now be manufactured with the hemp fabric. It is now making its way into footwears, sunglasses and ski-goggles, home décor, bath and lifestyle products, and etcetera.
Where on one hand, hemp has widely been brought into play in the fashion and lifestyle industry; hemp also has an amazing nutritious profile. For example, hemp is protein-rich containing all 9 amino acids. Each part of the hemp crop can be effectively used by creating zero wastage - the seeds are used to make oil (known as Hempoline) and food supplements, while the stalks are used for fibre.
In India, a growing number of agricultural training programs are coming into effect to educate farmers about hemp fabric and fibres. Sustainable clothing companies are also pulling out all the stops to educate the mass consumer as well as designers about hemp to start making conscious shopping choices. Hemp has its origin tracing back to as early as the period of the Vedas, referring to it as one of five sacred plants of India. In fact, hemp is quite native to India as the plant grows abundantly in the Northern state of Uttarakhand. The Uttar Pradesh state government has also legalized the cultivation of hemp provided the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content is less than 0.3%.
The sweet benefits of hemp clothing has led the fashion industry to actively explore the fibre and help brands come up with eco-friendly clothing lines. The distribution of hemp clothing is available offline but is mostly up for grabs in the online market. Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO), Hemp Fabric Lab, SUI, Vajor and Bhu:Sattva are some of the hemp clothing websites producing sustainable men and womenswear. BOHECO, India’s premier Industrial Hemp & Medicinal Cannabis Company, has constantly made efforts towards bringing a sustainable clothing environment for eight years now. If you’re looking for chic and trendy basics that are also sustainable, BOHECO fabrics is your one-stop solution! It has a wide range of apparel such as hemp fabric dresses, that will easily blend into the modern-day aesthetic of your wardrobe. They even launched their new line of organic yet chic clothing, B Label by BOHECO. In today’s environment friendly market, B Label by BOHECO and Hemp Fabric Lab are the pioneering brands for sustainable shopping.
Mostly, hemp clothing manufacturers have made their products sell on an online platform. With digital marketing at its peak, creators have devised a one stop shop for their consumers to buy sustainable fabrics right from the comfort of their home. Hemp fabric is an extremely durable and versatile fabric that uses 50% less water as compared to cotton. Sustainable brands which specifically sell hemp-based products have stringent checks in place to ensure the quality of the fabrics and that they are produced ethically.
The benefits of hemp clothing seem to be un-ending. Hemp, considered to be the “Miracle Fibre”, is one of the strongest of all. It has benefits that suffice the qualities of all natural textile fibres. It is the most sustainable and soft fabric accessible at hand. It is strong, lightweight, absorbent, and has tensile strength up to three times of that of cotton. It is known for its thermoregulating powers, i.e., keeping one warm in winters and cool in summers. Not only is it susceptible to weather changes, but it is also UV resistant. Hemp has less chances of being distorted and stretched, rather it becomes soft with every use. In fact, hemp fabric can be used as home furnishing products due to their extra soft fabric and durability. In addition, hemp fabrics kill bacteria making them naturally anti-microbial and odour-resistant.
Hemp farming also goes easy on the environment as it uses very little water for its cultivation. It does not require the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers, and is a readily renewable resource. Hemp also produces more fibre per acre than trees, hence is totally biodegradable.
What makes Hemp a Sustainable fabric?
It protects the topsoil from eroding, hence replenishes the roots it is grown in. Industrial hemp plants even absorb more carbon dioxide than trees, which ultimately helps purify the air around. Therefore, it can also be known as a carbon-dioxide depletory fibre. It is very versatile in nature, blending in with other fibres for different qualities in the garment. Hemp fibre clothing now includes hemp/silk and hemp/cotton garments which are available for added comfort.
With all these benefits at large, hemp still isn’t able to gain the popularity it deserves. It is derived from the Cannabis Sativa family (commonly known as weed), hence the disreputation. But people are now getting aware of the difference between useful hemp clothing and its function as a mind-altering drug meant for recreational purposes. Although hemp is less expensive to cultivate because of its minimal growth requirements, yet it pays its price due to the amount of care it requires to process.
Sustainability comes at a price, quite literally. Hemp clothing typically has a higher price point and due to its expensive nature, people are not willing to buy it. But we can overcome this drawback together! By creating more demand, hemp would be supplied more, therefore bought more; and ultimately prices fall. Hemp might be a little on the expensive side, but it ultimately serves the purpose of being eco-friendly. Hence, hemp fabric’s sustainability should not be doubted with wariness.
Cotton is undeniably the king of the fashion industry. It grows faster, is lightweight, comfortable, inexpensive… but considering the damage it is inflicting upon our fragile environment today, is cotton really the best we can do? The growing process of cotton is simplified by the excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers and requires approximately 2,700 litres of water to make one simple t-shirt! This not only creates an alarming environmental issue, but also questions the ethical concerns as well.
Hemp on the other hand, provides all those qualities (even better) than those cotton or organic cotton has. It needs very little water to grow and is naturally pest resistant. Hemp grows faster, without the need for much chemicals and it provides much more fibre than cotton. Hence, hemp can safely be stated as the best sustainable fibre available in the present day.
In today’s world where the natural resources are dwindling rapidly, and synthetic fibres like acrylic, polyester, nylon, and spandex are not being the most environmentally friendly, it is about time we look for sustainable alternatives when producing fibres and fabrics. When it comes to slow fashion, hemp is definitely the one fabric to watch out for. Hemp can therefore be announced as the fabric of the future.