Hemp is considered by many to be the most ecological textile fiber. The plant requires little water, is 100 percent biodegradable and hardly has any natural enemies which make it easy to grow it eco-friendly, without the use of insecticides or herbicides. Hemp fibers are very strong, which is why in the past it was used for sails and ropes. It is however also very suitable for making clothes and ... hemp seems to represent the future.
The properties of clothing, how it feels and wears are largely determined by the natural properties of the fiber it was made from. Hemp retains little air and has little insulating properties. That is why it feels fresh and cool, which makes it ideal for summer clothing. In addition, hemp has good anti-bacterial and UV-resistant properties. Hemp clothing quickly absorbs water and quickly releases it back into the air, which provides comfort on hot days. In combination with cotton or wool, it is also perfectly suitable for the colder days.
Hemp can be worn directly on the skin, it feels nice, although it is less soft and less elastic than, for example, cotton. Its relative stiffness also causes woven hemp to crease faster. It is a property that is part of this unique material and many (including Georgio Armani) consider it to be a charming characteristic.
Sometimes the shorter hemp fibers are cottonized and spun in combination with (organic) cotton. This mix of materials can be considered as an important innovation of the modern textile industry and can only be produced by a very few companies. Mixing it with cotton makes the hemp (and all the advantages the fiber offers) easier to apply in knitted fabrics that require more elasticity. Also, pure hemp is a rather heavy fiber and very expensive to produce. A mix with organic cotton reduces both the weight and the cost price and gives us affordable fabrics that contain hemp.
Throughout the centuries hemp was considered to be one of the most important and useful plants. The possibilities it offers are almost endless and it was applied in a broad range of products, from ultra thin cigarette paper to thick ropes. George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the Fouding Fathers of the United States all grew hemp. However, in the 1930s the growing of hemp was forbidden in the US because the plant was associated too much with drugs. However, the psychoactive component THC hardly occurs in industrial hemp from which textiles are made. Still, the cultivation ban was also extended to Europe. The result was that the plant virtually disappeared from the European and American fields, together with the machines and specialized knowledge about cultivation and processing.
China was ready to fill the gap that was left by the Europeans and Americans and became the leading hemp-producing and exporting country, a position it has held ever since.
From 2010, more and more industrial hemp has also been grown in Europe, but it is only rarely processed into clothing or textiles although the most commonly used hemp variety in Europe (so-called Mediterranean hemp) is very suitable for this purpose, due to its long fiber length.
Ecological Textiles offers both Chinese and European hemp fabrics, knitted and woven, sometimes blended with organic cotton.
As far as we know, GOTS-certified hemp fabrics are not yet on the market. Nevertheless, this is a development one would expect in the near future. GOTS-certified non-wovens from hemp are already available and can be obtained in our webshop. Cultivation of certified organic hemp wouldn’t have to cause any problems, neither would the retting and further processing. does not have to be.