Introduction to Hemp Clothes: The Eco-Friendly Alternative
Hemp clothes have been gaining popularity as consumers become increasingly aware of the impact of fast fashion on the environment. Hemp is a versatile plant that has been used for thousands of years for various purposes, including textiles. Unlike many other fabrics, hemp is grown without the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals, making it a more environmentally friendly option. In this article, we will take a closer look at hemp clothes and why they are a great alternative to traditional cotton garments.
Hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown specifically for industrial purposes. The fibres in the stem of the plant are strong, making them ideal for use in textiles. It is a fast-growing crop that requires minimal water, making it a more sustainable option compared to cotton, which is one of the most heavily pesticide-treated crops in the world. Hemp, unlike cannabis, won’t get you high though!
Hemp fabric has a number of properties that make it a great choice for clothing. It is breathable, resistant to pilling and wicks moisture away, making it ideal for any garment that is in contact with the skin. Additionally, hemp clothes are durable, reducing the need for frequent replacements. This not only saves money, but also helps to reduce the impact of the fashion industry on the environment.
The production of hemp clothes is also more environmentally friendly than cotton. Hemp requires less water, fewer chemicals and produces around twice the amount of usable fibres per square acre of land.
Benefits of Wearing Hemp Clothes: Comfort and Durability
Hemp has several characteristics that make it great when used for clothing. The tiny hemp fibres are hollow helping to insulate you from both the heat and the cold. They are also breathable and naturally wick moisture away from the skin, making you feel less sweaty on warm days. As a result, hemp is comfortable to wear across a wide range of environmental conditions. This is in stark contrast to synthetic fabrics, which can be hot and uncomfortable in warm weather.
Hemp is also hypoallergenic, antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it naturally resistant to bacteria and mould. This helps if your clothes are likely to be exposed to moisture (such as workout clothes or outdoor gear), or if you have sensitive skin.
Hemp is among the strongest of the natural fibres, resulting in a fabric that is long-lasting and resilient to pilling. Buying clothes less regularly saves you money, but also helps to reduce the impact of the garment on the environment.
One of the misconceptions of hemp clothes is that the fabric is itchy. Pure hemp fabrics are akin to linen, which is less soft than pure cotton, but not itchy. Many hemp clothes are a blend of hemp and organic cotton. When this mix is around 50/50, the resulting fabric is indistinguishable from cotton for softness, yet still retains many of the other beneficial characteristics of hemp. And, a great characteristic of hemp is that it gets softer the more it is washed!
The History and Evolution of Hemp Clothing
Hemp has been used for thousands of years for a variety of purposes, including textiles. The history and evolution of hemp clothing are a testament to the versatility and durability of this plant.
Hemp is thought to have been one of the first plants to be cultivated by humans. Evidence of hemp textiles date back to ancient China where hemp was used for clothing, paper, and rope. It was also used for textiles in other ancient civilizations, including ancient Greece and Egypt, and up to the 19th century remained one of the most common fabrics used for clothing.
During the reign of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, the UK’s compulsory cannabis law forced farmers to grow hemp, such was its importance for the production of canvas and ropes – a vital component for the vast number of ships being built to support the wars of the time.
In the 20th centuries, hemp fell out of favour as a textile due to the rise of cotton and synthetic fabrics. Many countries also outlawed the growing of hemp due to its association with cannabis. However, in recent years, hemp has been making a comeback as consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of fast fashion.
In the 1990s, the first hemp clothing began to appear in specialty stores and since then, the market for hemp clothing has continued to grow. Today, hemp clothes are available in a wide range of styles and designs, from casual wear to high-end fashion.
Traditionally, hemp has been used for a variety of application, such as paper, rope, sails and cloth, but as society becomes more concerned with the environment, new applications for hemp seem to be appearing on an almost daily basis. These include hempcrete (a sustainable replacement for concrete), hemp based fibre glass, hemp based plastic and a vast array of other products and materials. With this versatility it is likely that hemp will become ever more present in our daily lives.
Hemp Clothes vs. Cotton Clothes: A Comparison
When it comes to choosing the right fabric for your clothes, it can be difficult to know which one is the best choice. Hemp clothes and cotton clothes are both popular options, but there are some key differences between the two that are worth considering.
One of the main differences between hemp clothes and cotton clothes is the environmental impact. Cotton is one of the most heavily pesticide-treated crops in the world, and the production of cotton can have a significant impact on the environment. In contrast, hemp is a naturally pest-resistant crop that requires little or no pesticides, and requires a fraction of the water that cotton does.
Another difference between hemp and cotton is the strength of the fabric. Hemp is a tough fibre, whereas cotton is a relatively weak and can easily become damaged or worn out.
Hemp is also a more breathable fabric than cotton, which is especially important in warm weather. Its insulative and wicking properties keep you comfortable on both hot and cold days. In contrast, cotton can trap heat and be uncomfortable to wear in warm weather.
In terms of cost, hemp tends to be, on average, more expensive than cotton. Whilst a mid-range shirt will be roughly the same cost, a hemp t-shirt could be twice the cost of the cotton equivalent. This difference is mainly due to the economies of scale that cotton benefits from.
So, whilst hemp clothes can cost more than cotton, there are a number of benefits that justify the extra expense, not least their better environmental credentials.
Sustainability in the Fashion Industry: The Importance of Hemp
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the fashion industry and hemp is playing a major role in the shift towards more environmentally friendly clothing. The production of fast fashion has led to a massive increase in the amount of waste generated by the clothing industry, and the environmental impact of this waste is a major concern.
One of the key benefits of hemp is its low impact on the environment. Hemp is a naturally pest-resistant crop and doesn’t require the pesticides that other crops do. It is also a highly renewable, fast growing, resource that can be farmed in a variety of conditions. Their deep roots result in a lower requirement for watering and hemp is a net sequester of carbon – one hectare of hemp can absorb 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The benefits don’t stop with the growing of hemp. As already discussed, hemp is a durable fibre, resulting in a longer lasting fabric – the longer clothes last, the fewer we need to buy and make, helping both our pockets and the environment. At the end of life, hemp lends itself to re-purposing/upcycling and it is biodegradable. Currently there is little recycling of the fibres back into new clothes, but this is the same for almost all other fabric types.
The importance of hemp in the fashion industry cannot be overstated. Hemp is a sustainable, versatile, and durable resource that is playing a major role in the shift towards a more environmentally friendly future. By choosing hemp clothes, you can help to reduce your impact on the environment and support a more sustainable fashion industry.
The Production Process of Hemp Clothes: From Plant to Garment
The production process of hemp clothes begins with the cultivation of the hemp plant. Hemp is a highly renewable crop that can be grown in a variety of conditions, and the fibres are typically harvested when the plant reaches maturity.
Once the plants have been harvested, they are processed to remove the fibres from the rest of the plant and make them fine enough for spinning. This involves:
- Retting: removing the fibres from the harder, woody, core.
- Scutching: removing any remnants of the core from the fibres.
- Heckling: dividing the thick clumps of fibres into individual fibres.
After the fibres have been processed, they are spun into yarn and woven into fabric. The fabric can then be dyed, printed, or finished as desired.
Finally, the fabric is cut and sewn into the desired garment, and the finished product is ready for sale. This production process involves a number of different stages, but the end result is a high-quality hemp garment that is comfortable, durable, and eco-friendly.
The Future of Hemp Clothes: Innovations and Advancements
When the growing of hemp was outlawed by many countries in the mid twentieth century, the development of the processes and techniques to turn hemp into clothes stopped progressing and was left behind by cotton.
Innovation in the hemp clothing industry has started again though and the development of new and improved processes continues. These innovations are making hemp fabrics softer, more comfortable and more versatile than ever before.
As the industry continues to grow, these new techniques and technologies are making the production of hemp clothes more efficient and sustainable. This includes everything from new methods of harvesting the fibres to more environmentally friendly dying and finishing processes.
There is a growing demand for hemp clothes that are stylish and on-trend, with an increasing number of high-end fashion brands incorporating hemp into their collections. As the quality and variety of hemp clothes continues to improve, it is likely that hemp will become an increasingly popular choice for consumers who are looking for sustainable and fashionable clothing options.
Conclusion: Making a Positive Impact with Hemp Clothes
The future of hemp clothes is bright, with a number of exciting innovations and advancements on the horizon. As consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their clothing choices, the demand for eco-friendly and sustainable clothing will continue to grow. Hemp is well positioned to play a major role in shaping the future of the fashion industry, not least due to the benefits it offers.
So, if you’re looking for a way to make a positive impact with your clothing choices, consider choosing hemp clothes. By doing so, you can support a more sustainable, ethical, and environmentally friendly fashion industry, and help to create a brighter future for us all.
If hemp hadn’t had a close association with cannabis, it would probably be as common as cotton, perhaps even more so. Whilst there are a few more brands selling hemp clothes, they are still a bit of a rarety. Yet, on many levels, hemp out performs cotton as a fabric used for clothing. From an environmental persepective, it blows cotton out of the water.
Of The Oceans Clothes
At Of The Oceans, we only sell clothes that are made with natural fibres, including a good selection of hemp menswear. All our suppliers are accredited by the Fair Wear foundation. Other environmental credentials are listed with the individual items, allowing our customers to decide whether they meet their sustainable requirements.
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