Hemp Clothing; Cool or Crap?
With evidence dating back to 4,000 BC in China and Turkestan, hemp is one of the oldest textile fibers in the world. It was originally used for such things as strengthening pottery, making rope, sails for boats, and hemp clothing. This makes its initial use in textiles around 1,000 years earlier than cotton.
Due to constant government restrictions around the world in regards to cannabis smoking, hemp has certainly had its ups and downs in terms of popularity. Thankfully this quality, natural, and very environmentally friendly fiber is now seeing a resurgence in textile processing.
While there may be some way to go yet for hemp to claim its rightful place in the higher echelons of current fashion trends, it is making great strides as the textile industry and consumers understand exactly what it can offer.
With that in mind, here are the pros and cons of purchasing and wearing hemp clothing. These pointers should help you to decide whether or not this natural material is cool or crap!
The Pros of Hemp Clothing
Let’s consider some major reasons that make hemp a worthy consideration for those looking at cool, sustainable clothing:
Good for comfortable wear in all weathers
Hemp is extremely durable. It wears in, not out and its tensile strength is up to 8 times that of cotton. On top of this and due to the hollow fiber structure hemp has natural thermoregulating properties that allow for optimal amounts of airflow.
The result is that the hemp clothing worn will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This is because the body’s core temperature works with the hemp fabric and not against it.
Another key factor in terms of comfortability is to dispel a widely held myth. Contrary to what many believe, hemp clothing is actually soft on the skin and it becomes softer and more comfortable to wear over time.
Natural moisture-wicking and odor resistance
Hemp is known to absorb up to 20% of its own weight and still feel dry to the touch. As can be imagined this is important for any fabric that comes into contact with the skin because perspiration is quickly absorbed and then released.
That means when wearing hemp clothing less moisture is retained and less body odor (odor-causing bacteria) builds up. Wearing hemp clothing means that these garments can be worn more often between washes than clothing made from other materials.
Healthy for you – Healthy for the environment
This is a key benefit of hemp clothing and is shown in a wide variety of ways such as:
- Non-Synthetic equates to No Microplastics: Because hemp is a natural, plant-based fiber this means that when made into fabric it does not contain or shed microplastics. Synthetic textiles are the opposite.
- Natural antibacterial and antifungal properties: Through research, the potent activity of hemp has been identified against specific bacteria. This includes MRSA and E. coli) as well as strains of fungi.
Because hemp possesses a broad spectrum of antibacterial activity it makes for healthier clothing wear. It also contains hypoallergenic qualities and this makes it an excellent choice for those who suffer from allergies or have sensitive skin.
- UV Light and Mold resistant: Hemp is known to be the most naturally resistant fiber against UV (Ultraviolet) light. With that, it offers wearers protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
It is ideal for wear in humid conditions or when worn during travel. That is because it is highly resistant to mold, mildew, salt water, and degradation through rotting.
- Easy to wash and offers soil-release properties: Hemp does not need any special attention when cleaning. It is machine washable and even benefits from regular wear and washing. This is because hemp actually improves the natural feel and luster the more times it is worn and washed.
To explain further, every time hemp is washed it sheds a natural microscopic layer. The result is an exposed, retained, fresh surface that allows a sleek sheen. It also gives the ability to release any stains more easily than other available fabrics.
A final benefit here is that when washed, hemp is a very fast-drying material. This makes it great for people on the go. It gives you the ability to wash and dry your hemp attire overnight.
- Retains shape with no shrinkage: True clothing made from hemp means the material will hold its shape much better than other textiles. Quality hemp clothing manufacturers also pre-shrink all of their garments to ensure there is no risk of the items you wear stretching out of shape or shrinking after washing or drying.
- Extremely environmentally friendly: Unlike other materials used in the production of clothing, hemp does not require any chemical, pesticide, or herbicide fertilizers during its growth period.
This is because the hemp plant is a natural pest repellent with the capability to deter insects as well as repelling mites, bacteria, and fungi. It is also a natural weed suppressant and achieves this by out-competing and out-shading any weeds in its surrounding environment.
Another huge benefit comes with the fact that hemp is 100% biodegradable and compostable.
- Highly renewable and some: Staying on the environmentally-friendly aspect of hemp it is fast-growing and highly renewable. It can mature in just 100 days and harvesting can be carried out up to 3 times per year.
Other highly important environmental factors come with the fact that hemp yields between 200-250% more fiber in the same land area when compared to cotton. It is highly effective at replenishing the soil it grows in, and hemp only requires about half the amount of water to grow healthily compared to cotton.
The Cons of Hemp Clothing?
To help balance the benefits against the downsides of hemp clothing here are some factors that this material currently has against it:
While the industrial hemp farming industry is growing it is still very small when compared to other materials used for clothing. A key example here is hemp vs cotton production where cotton is out of sight in terms of production levels.
This is currently creating low hemp availability and costly production challenges for hemp clothing manufacturers. However, as supply and demand increase, many in the industry see this situation easing.
Easy to wrinkle
While hemp clothing is ideal for working outdoors, when traveling, or for informal social occasions it does have low elasticity. This means it wrinkles easily.
To get around the issue hemp is often blended along with other materials during the clothing manufacturing process. Although hemp is lightweight and very resistant it needs chemical treatments to remain elastic.
Dyeing is difficult
Hemp’s natural color varies from light sand to darker grayish beige with the color depending on the conditions it grows in. Factors that affect this coloring include soil composition and humidity.
It is acknowledged that hemp fibers are hard to dye. Having said that, hemp can be bleached and then dyed through the use of various environmentally-friendly methods.
However, due to the difficulty of dying hemp fibers, their finished appearance is not as rich in color. Even though not as friendly to the environment, other clothing material (cotton being a prime example) is easier to dye and brings out a wide variety of richer colors.
Still overcoming a bad reputation
Many people still do not understand the clear distinction between marijuana and hemp and feel they are both one and the same thing. This is where education is required.
While it is true that both hemp and marijuana plants are of the same species, the major difference comes with how much THC (delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol) each contains.
It is the THC content in the marijuana plant that gets you high and its use is still illegal in many countries. However, hemp is perfectly legal because it contains less than 0.3%. Such a low percentage of THC will not affect you in any way.
Is Hemp Clothing Cool or Crap?
This is a decision only you can make. It really depends upon your style and fashion needs. But one thing is for certain, those who are environmentally conscious will see the huge benefits that hemp clothing offers.
As a suggestion, the next time you are shopping for clothing take time out to look for hemp products. The rise in the production of industrial hemp and the increasing number of clothing manufacturers using it means that the choice of wear and styles available is continuing to rise.
Why not buy an item or two of hemp clothing. You may well be pleasantly surprised at the style, comfort, and longevity of wear that quality hemp garments offer!
For more insightful articles on hemp and the growing world of cannabis please click here.