Why is hemp fiber the future of clothing?
Posted at 11:00 • 28th Dec • Bernardo Carreira• Hemp
Hemp fiber is not only the future of clothing, but also its past. Before being banned, it was the main material used for apparel and footwear. But it is coming back strong, as customers increasingly demand eco-friendly fibers to take over.
What is Hemp?
It comes from the Cannabis Sativa plant, it dates back to 8000bc and you probably seen hemp in clothes or inside your history books, because in the old days, everything was made with it. Ropes, boat sails, clothing, paper and even that cloth you saw mummies rolled in, that was hemp cloth.
Until the 60s and 70s hemp was very widely used, but with the war on drugs, it’s farming was completely forbidden for decades. But the reality here is that the industrial hemp we are talking about is bred to be taller, not higher (pun intended). The taller the plants grow the more fiber can be extracted from its trunk. Unlike it’s cousin marijuana, there’s close to 0% THC in those. That means that you cannot smoke a hemp T-shirt or a hemp shoe because those are completely free of psychoactive substances.
Why is hemp sustainable?
There is a funny reason why it’s called weed and that’s because it grows like weeds, fast and everywhere. And this is very important because it grows so fast it almost needs no chemicals or water, unlike Cotton which is one of the biggest sources of pollution.
At the same time hemp is a High yield plant, and it requires a lot less land for the same amount of output fiber, in less than half of the time. And a lot less water, more than 5 times less water than cotton.
But most importantly hemp is a Carbon offsetting crop. Even more than crops. Which means hemp products start offsetting the carbon footprint of its products even before they are made. How beautiful is that?
Did you know Hemp is stronger than steel!
It will take a lot more pressure to crack or break composite materials made of hemp fibers than the amount of pressure needed to crack or break things made of steel. The weakest hemp fiber needs more pressure to crack and break than the weakest variety of steel. The strongest variety of steel needs less pressure to crack and break than the strongest variety of hemp fiber.
Hemp has the capacity to endure double the weight of steel before it cracks and breaks. If you still think that we are messing with your brain, then you should watch this. One of Ford’s first models was made with Hemp and it could withstand 10 times the impact without denting.
Same principles apply to textiles. Hemp fabric is made from the stalk of the plant, which allows the individual fibres to be quite a bit longer than cotton or wool fibre tends to be. This length, along with the fact that the fibres are designed to be strong enough to support the entire plant means that when hemp fibre is woven into textiles, the result is an incredibly strong fabric. Silk is also incredibly strong but is unfortunately also very expensive due to the more elaborate processes involved in harvesting it.
But there’s more: when you combine the strength of hemp with its antimicrobial properties, what you are left with is a textile that is going to age extremely well. It doesn’t break down, tear, or become smelly.
So why isn’t everyone making hemp?
It seems like a no-brainer, but the reality is that it’s too soon.
The good news are that that process is happing, but it is still early as industrial hemp farming was only treated like other agricultural commodities under the 2018 Farm Bill hemp. As of now it is still a premium material and way more expensive than cotton-polyester or other material.
Lot’s of innovation is coming with new sustainable brands driving demand forward, but a key problem is a limited supply. Many people and joining the industry, but it will take years, if not decades to recover the knowledge, the production and the farming scale there was before industrial hemp was banned.
Another problem is the limited knowledge have about this plant. As many people are joining the fight against stigma and MAKING HEMP GREAT AGAIN!
StyleWise + 8000Kicks
This piece was built together with 8000Kicks, an upcoming Portuguese shoe brand that manufactures the world’s 1st waterproof cannabis sneakers:
💪 Super Strong Hemp fibers;
💦 Splash friendly
🍁 World's 1st Hemp Insoles;
🌱 Algae Bloom soles;
✅ 100% vegan;
🏃 Versatile design;
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