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Written by: Zeinab Magdi


When you think of sustainable fabrics, do you think of hemp? Most people think of cotton, even though hemp requires less natural resources to grow, and is more resilient and durable than cotton. Clothing made out of hemp fabric may seem like a new idea, however hemp has been used for hundreds of years to produce strong fabrics in large quantities. It was openly used to create ropes for ships during the ‘Age of Discovery’ when sailors went to explore new territories, however, in 1970, the Controlled Substance Act was created which penalized the cultivation and sale of hemp since it was derived from the Cannabis plant. 

However, now, there is less of a stigma around the plant, more and more countries are decriminalizing and legalizing the cultivation of Cannabis, leading to hemp making a comeback in the fabric industry. As consumers demand a more environmentally friendly way to produce clothing, brands such as Patagonia, Tentree, and Reformation are now using hemp to meet those demands.

Image via Newyorkmagazine

What is hemp fabric made of?

You might be thinking, what is hemp clothing made of? And how is it produced? Hemp is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, the same plant that produces marijuana. However, it does not have the same effects as marijuna. While some varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant are bred to be higher in THC, the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis, industrial hemp, has extremely low levels of THC and is bred to have high strong fibres in order to be used to make clothing. 

Once farmers grow the Cannabis sativa plant, they designate which of these crops will be made to produce clothing, they peel the outer layer of the crop and turn it into a textile material. Once it is removed from the plant, the crop is processed into yarn or rope. This material is extremely versatile, it can be used to make clothing, paper, and canvases.

Is hemp fabric sustainable?

So, how sustainable is hemp fabric? And how does it compare to other eco-friendly fabrics, like cotton?

Carbon Negative Farming
  • Hemp uses low water and resources, the amount of water required to produce 1kg of hemp is somewhere between 300 and 500 liters, in comparison to the amount of water needed to produce cotton, which is 10,000 liters. 
  • Hemp does not require any chemical pesticides to be produced, in comparison to cotton which uses 16% of the world’s pesticides. Pesticides can be extremely hazardous to the environment, they destroy local ecosystems when they escape into neighbouring bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, or oceans.  
  • Hemp is a “self offsetting” crop, meaning that it absorbs more CO2 from the atmosphere than forests, which is extremely beneficial to the environment.
Material is strong and durable
Gif via thelastfashionbible
  • Hemp is extremely strong and durable, ropes made of hemp fabric are used on ships, which give an idea of how long hemp products last. 
  • Clothing made of hemp is proven to be more durable than cotton, lasting longer and therefore requiring less resources and creating less waste over time.
No industrial Waste Byproducts
  • One of the biggest advantages to hemp is that the whole plant can be used, the stalk is used for clothing, while other parts of the plant are used for bedding, building purposes, and fuel. 
  • Hemp is very gentle on the earth, it returns 60-70% of the nutrients it takes from the soil
Quick to Produce
  • Hemp only requires 115 days to harvest, in comparison to cotton, which takes approximately 160 days to harvest.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Hemp fabric

  1. Durability- as mentioned previously, hemp is extremely strong and durable, clothing made with hemp fabric can last up to 30 years with proper care, in comparison to cotton, which only lasts up to 10 years! 
  2. Cozy and lightweight fabric – although it’s considered strong and durable, hemp fabric is also extremely lightweight and breathable! It’s considered one of the lightest fabrics on the market, and weighs up to one third less than wool or cotton, the lightweight fabric makes it extremely versatile and can be used to create different types of clothing, from jackets, to shoes, to work out clothes. 
  3. Hemp has a naturally high UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) – hemp is 99.9% effective in blocking UV rays from the sun, making it perfect for summer clothing. 
  4. Hemp is naturally antimicrobial – hemp requires less washing to stay clean, reducing water waste, and increasing sustainability. It’s resistant to microbes and moldes, meaning that the clothing will not get dirty or smell bad after one wear. 
  5. Hemp doesn’t shrink – one of the biggest advantages to clothing made with hemp fabric is that it doesn’t shrink in the wash, and retains its shape over time. In comparison to cotton fabric, hemp will retain its shape even after hundreds, if not thousands, of washes.
  1. Hemp is expensive – the biggest disadvantage to hemp clothing is the price. Although the production of hemp is cheaper than cotton, market factors play a role in the higher price. Cotton is much more accessible and available to the public than hemp, which makes it cheaper per volume. 
  2. Texture – although hemp is lightweight and durable, the texture is a little tougher than cotton, making cotton more ideal for bedding, pillows, and towels.
Image via Vogue

Brands Using Hemp

With the rising demand for eco-friendly clothing, many brands are now using hemp fabric to meet consumers’ sustainability requirements, here are a few of the top brands using hemp to make their clothing:

Image via Newyorktimes

Tentree is a Canadian based clothing brand that plants ten trees for every product sold in areas of damaged biodiversity. They use materials such as hemp, organic cotton, and recycled polyester to make their clothing. They sell a variety of different products such as sweaters, tees, hats, shorts, jackets, pants, and accessories.


Patagonia is one of the leading sustainable clothing brands, they specialize in outdoor wear, such as swimwear, camping gear, casual wear, and eco friendly luggage and bags. They use materials such as organic cotton, linen, hemp, and wool.


Reformation is an online clothing store that manufactures their products in Los Angeles factories, paying their workers fairly and in safe working conditions. They are a ‘carbon neutral’ brand that maximizes their green practices, and use materials such as recycled wool, vegetable tanned leather, and hemp.

The Verdict - will hemp become more accessible?

Unfortunately, the cannabis sativa plant still has a bad reputation as most of the world assumes that hemp and marijuana are synonymous with each other. Stigma and legal regulations make it extremely hard for farmers to grow the plant, despite the environmental benefits. However, as marijuana recently became legal nationwide across Canada and across many states in the U.S., governments are recognizing the sustainability benefits of industrial hemp. Hemp is predicted to become more accessible and mainstream, which has already been seen in the skincare industry with products such as hemp infused moisturizer and hemp oils being sold at different price ranges across many different skincare brands. Hopefully, the clothing industry will follow suit.

Via ÀLA.HAUSSE‘s Multi-functional and Multi-purposeful Fashion Ecosystem- BUY/SELL/RENT/LEND/ (swap BETA 2021) mobile application, INDIVIDUALS & brands (BETA 2021) are encouraged to REBUY, RESELL, REUSE and UP-CYCLE their personal “Closets” aka Clothing Assets, along with overstock inventory and samples. Through this consumerism habit shift we indirectly slow down the urgency on fashion’s carbon footprint, aiding sustainability as a whole.

BETA Early Access Application Now Opens SS21 iOS Android 

with Stories on www.alahausse.ca



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