What is Hemp and Why is It So Important Today?
Posted on June 21st, 2021
Today, we’re talking about a different side of cannabis, exploring what is hemp fashion! By now, you’ve probably seen this cash crop discussed in many applications, including health foods, alternative medicine and even the fashion industry.
But this is no new craze! In fact, the cannabis family of plants have a long history of providing us with useful, sustainable products. And, today, as we’re starting to face industrialization’s serious environmental consequences, many modern consumers and manufacturers are rediscovering this powerful plant. And finding all new ways to use its stalks, leaves and internal compounds!
Fabric from Cannabis
Hemp fashion hasn’t been dominant since the late 1920s. But, in recent years, it’s making a come back in the industry. And not just in novelty markets, or for proven cannabis enthusiasts. In fact, today hemp clothes and fabrics are well suited to anyone looking for a comfortable, stylish and environmentally responsible fashion. Soon, we may even see hemp overtake cotton as the industry’s top materials choice.
Why could cotton be a thing of the past? Well, hemp materials are versatile, popping up in dresses, pants, jackets, skirts, and children’s clothing. When it comes to home goods, you’ll also see hemp tablecloths, napkins and kitchen fabrics. Plus you can source upholstery, curtains and drapery, or bedding, pillowcases, sheets, duvets, and blankets. All crafted from strong and durable hemp fibers! But there’s more to this plant than versatility. Because, the real story of hemp fashion is the benefits for our planet.
Today’s savvy dresser knows there’s too much waste in the fashion industry. As a planet, we throw away 13 tons of textiles every year. Already, clothing rental services such as Rent the Runway are trying to reduce waste by reducing clothing purchases. But, on its own, efforts like this brand’s won’t do enough to reduce fashion waste. And that’s where hemp clothing could offer the world a way to build more sustainable clothing lines.
How could one plant answer so many questions? It all has to do with the way hemp production lends intself to sustainability:
Naturally Resistant to Disease and Pests
Cotton has enjoyed years as the fashion industry’s primary industrial crop. And the results have not been good. That’s because cotton cultivation requires intensive fertilization, along with generous use of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. (All of which have terrible environmental impacts.) Which is why many conscientious consumers seek cotton alternatives. Like hemp.
This plant is a great choice, since its trichomes offer natural resistance to disease, insects and fungal attacks. This means that growers don’t use large quantities of chemical additives for their crops.
Uses Less Water
Textile farmers must use exorbitant amounts of water for cotton growth. And that’s a problem, because it’s currently used in almost one third of all textiles on the planet. Doesn’t sound like a big deal? Consider this: it takes over 2,700 liters of water to produce a single cotton t-shirt. So you can begin to understand how cultivating this crop puts a massive strain on our vital natural resources.
In contrast, hemp cultivation doesn’t require nearly as much water. Plus, it grows in a wide variety of climates and soil types. And you use less to produce more raw materials for fabric.
Giving Back to the Earth
Because of high-demand for top-quality fabrics, growers may sacrifice agricultural land by abandoning best practices. This can strip the land of nutrients, since they deny our earth the chance to recuperate before cultivating more crops. Over time, this depletes soil quality. So farmers use chemical additives, further hurting our planet.
But here again hemp comes to the rescue, restoring nutrients to the ground, and slowly reversing centuries of poor cultivation practices. How could this be? Growing this plant offers phytoremediation. (That means it removes toxins like selenium from the soil.) Farmers in Chernobyl even used it to reduce soil radioactivity after the area’s nuclear disaster.
Grows Quickly and Cleanly
Today, we have several different strains of industrial hemp, each carefully cultivated for the textile industry. Some grow very quickly, getting ready for harvest in as little as 60 days. In comparison, cotton plants mature in roughly 5 to 6 and a half months.
As a result, if you grow cannabis and cotton on the same land space? The former produces more raw material per square meter. And it’s ready for harvest in less time, making it a far better investment in both time, space and cash resources. All without the same chemical support as cotton!
What is Hemp Fiber and Why is it Perfect for Textiles?
First and foremost you’ll enjoy the same softness and durability as with other natural and synthetic materials, but with fewer downsides. And with some serious advantages!
That’s because hemp plants produce strong and durable fabric. And its tensile strength (meaning it won’t break under tension) is roughly twice that of cotton. Which is why its uses include making roes sturdy enough for use as rigging in ancient sailing vessels. In fact, the textile’s strength led ancient civilizations to use hemp materials for twine, paper, home insulation, textiles, carpets and tapestries. And, in more modern times, we’ve applied the textile to super-polymers and hempcrete, a new, sustainable building material.
Today, car companies use hemp fabric to strengthen door panels, because it’s lighter and stronger than conventional alternatives. Plus, each plant can grow to over 15 -feet high, so just one can yields fiber strands between 3 and 15 feet in length.
But it goes deeper. When you look at this plant under a microscope, you’ll see that every fiber strand features a small alcove running from one end to another. This provides breathability, which gives hemp greater heating capacity when compared to other natural fibers like flax, linen or cotton. In addition to breathability, air trapped in these fibers improves insulation, making hemp a great fabric for comfortable clothing. Even better? Since the textiles allow controlled air passage, they’re less affected by moisture. So they’re quick-drying materials that prevent bacterial or mildew growth.
History of Hemp Fashion
Hemp fibers are an ancient crop. They’ve been for century, producing top-quality, long-lasting fabrics. In fact, a recent archaeological discovery from Çatalhöyük showed a 10,000-year-old hemp fabric. And it was still in recognizable conditions! This hemp-woven artifact from times past was used as the burial shroud for a small child, proving the fabric was in use throughout the Middle-East and Mediterranean.
This discovery is especially exciting, since predates the dawn of the agricultural revolution, when humans first cultivated crops for food and other uses. And it came long before the advent of hemp fashion made in western societies.
As we mentioned earlier, hemp offers an exciting new alternative to humanity’s demand for top-quality textiles. And it has impressive implications for the sustainability and versatility of fashion’s future. Already, we’re seeing famed brands such as Levi’s embrace sustainability, adding hemp fabric to their high end denim ware. And, as time goes on, we expect to see many more companies follow suit.
Of course, here at Tanasi, we love this powerful plant. And we’re excited about using its biomass–and hemp CBD extracts–to help people and the planet. So, while we don’t have our own cannabis clothing line, we do invite you to explore other hemp benefits through our online CBD store. Ready to get started? Go ahead and check out or topical, edible, sub-lingual and water-soluble hemp-extract CBD!
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