Can Hemp Clothing Find a Place
in Your Wardrobe?



hemp jacket

Do you have a hard time seeing yourself wearing hemp clothing? Does it make you think about hippie clothes from the 60's?. Well, you just might change your mind when you see the clothing being made today.

It may seem like a fairly new concept to some of us but it's a fabric that has been around for thousands of years and at one time was used frequently to make hemp clothing.

What's The Story Behind Hemp?

It has a fascinating history. The use of hemp goes back thousands of years. It was a very popular crop with so many different uses. It's reported that some of the very first fabric pieces ever found were made from hemp.

Throughout the years it has been used for fabric, canvas, rope, food, paper, oil, among other uses.

  • It was used in Napoleonic times for uniforms.
  • Thomas Jefferson wrote a draft of the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper.
  • It was so important to the military during World War II that farmers were encouraged to grow hemp.

  • Why Did Hemp Use Come to An End?

    As other crops became available hemp started to lose it's popularity. Cotton was fast becoming the new favorite. Cotton fabric created softer and easier to care for clothing while hemp clothing was rough and scratchy in comparison.

    Equipment was developed to process the cotton and make it softer but it would not work on hemp which had to be processed by hand, making it costly and time consuming. By the early 20th century equipment was finally developed to increase the yield which brought some renewed interest but so many alternatives were already available that hemp really never regained that much interest.

    It has been determined that hemp and marijuana are two separate varieties of Cannabis sativa but it is easy to confuse them. In 1937, it was not known there was a difference.

    Fears that hemp was a dangerous drug caused many states to ban it. It became illegal to grow hemp. The military still had a great need for hemp, which we exported mainly from Japan, but during World War II when our supply with Japan was cut off a campaign called "Hemp for Victory" was started to allow hemp to be grown for military use. That ended after the war.

    It wasn't until much later that it was finally recognized that hemp and marijuana were two distinct varieties of plants. By the 1990's some countries realizing the value of hemp began to be licensed to grow it. Right now the hemp being used for hemp clothing is imported mainly from China, Hungary and Canada.

    What Are The Benefits of Hemp?

    Most conventionally grown crops used to make our clothing has been treated by many chemicals from that small seed in the soil all the way to the finished fabric. Hemp offers many advantages.

    Hemp crops are resistant to insects and disease. Their vigorous growth creates a canopy that tends to keep weeds from growing. This makes for less chemicals and fertilizer. It can be harvested twice a year which makes it very renewable and needs minimal processing to make fabric.

    Hemp clothing has been found to be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It's absorbency makes hemp easy to dye and better at retaining color. It creates a strong linen like fabric that is more durable, absorbent, shrinks less and is UV resistant. New technology developed in the 1980's created fabric that is superior to many others.

    All by itself, hemp has so much to offer but when hemp is combined with other fabrics, it makes fabric such as silk stronger and cotton more durable. When grown organically and processed with vegetable dyes it then becomes even more environmentally friendly.

    Is All Hemp The Same?

    Fewer chemicals are needed to grow hemp which is good but if you can find organic hemp all the better. Either way look for clothing that has been minimally processed with eco friendly methods. Often fabric processing which involves taking the plant and turning it into thread for fiber and then dyeing the fiber can involve toxic chemicals. By knowing more about the hemp used to make your clothing you can make sure to buy truly eco friendly clothing.

    There are small companies that have created entire clothing lines from hemp. With so much good going for it, I hope to see more manufacturers and designers begin looking to renewable, environmentally friendly fabrics.

    Where To Shop

    hemp dress The companies listed below offer environmentally friendly hemp clothing and they make sure that the clothing was made in sweatshop free conditions.

  • Mountains of the Moon (pictured right) offers a fun and creative use of hemp. Hemp and hemp blends create a modern stylish look.
    Mountains of the Moon

  • Rawganique (pictured at top) carries a large selection of all things hemp. Clothing for everyone from tops, skirts, jeans, dresses and jackets to intimate wear. Beautifully styled, easy care 100% hemp and hemp blends.
    Rawganique


  • Related Pages

    Bamboo Clothing

    Organic Cotton Clothing

    Soy Clothing


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    Readers Comments:

    I love your website!! It is so helpful in finding ways that I can be eco-friendly and yet still fashionable at the same time. Allison

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