Business

What is Hemp Fabric?

By Kyra Heenan
Patagonia

Hemp fabric is a sustainable textile that is made from either cannabis sativa fiber or industrial hemp. This eco-friendly fabric may be making waves across industries today, but it is anything but new. Fibers from hemp have been used in materials for thousands of years—there is even evidence of hemp materials being used all the way back in 8,000 BC. Throughout history, this material has been used to produce a variety of industrial items, including canvas, ropes, paper, sails for ships, and more.

Benefits of Hemp Fabric

What makes hemp fibers so impressive is the relative strength when compared to other materials. Compared to other natural fibers, hemp is four to eight times more durable. Its extreme durability is why hemp textile has been so popular throughout history—and why it is being used more and more often today.

The sustainability and cost-effectiveness of the crop is also worth noting. Hemp is an incredibly fast growing and high yielding crop. When using the same amount of land, it can produce 250% more fiber than cotton, and 600% more fiber than flax.

Hemp also uses much less water than cotton. More than 2600 gallons of water is needed for a bit over 2 pounds of cotton. For hemp, only about 80 to 130 gallons is needed for the same amount.

Hemp is naturally pest-resistant, so it doesn’t need to be grown with harmful pesticides. On top of all that, hemp does not exhaust the soil. Rather, it controls topsoil erosion and is able to help the soil retain moisture. This means the land can be turned over quickly for the next crop to come in.

In addition to the durability and eco-friendliness of hemp fabric, it is also hypoallergenic, absorbent, and antimicrobial. Hemp fabric is a comfortable material that looks similar to linen, and it softens over time with washing. It also breathes well, just like cotton and linen, and can even offer UV protection, making it a great summertime choice.

How Hemp Fabric is Used Today

Due to the wide-array of impressive properties, today we see hemp fabric being used more and more often in the fashion world. In the hemp fashion market, you can find just about any clothing item you need: skirts, pants, socks, underwear, blouses, button-down shirts, and more.

Companies like Patagonia, Hemp Horizon, iLoveBad, and Dash Hemp have released fashionable hemp clothing items. Each company is breaking the mold of what people might associate with “hemp fashion”, designing styles that fit a variety of different aesthetics. You can also find hemp towels, bags, aprons, and more on the market.

There are a few minor disadvantages to hemp fabric when it comes to fashion. The similarities to linen don’t stop at the look and breathability: just like linen, hemp fabric wrinkles easily. It also does not hold on to color as well, so you won’t see super rich colors in 100% hemp fabric items. Dyed hemp fabric items are also more prone to colors running in the wash, so you will need to wash them with dark colors.

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