If you’ve been exploring the world of sustainable fashion, chances are you may have heard of “hemp” clothing. But what exactly is hemp and what makes it sustainable?
Luckily, you’re about to find the answers to those questions. We’ll give you all the info and facts you need, and a handful of local fashion brands that use the material in their products.
So, what is hemp?
According to NIDA, “Hemp is another name for the Cannabis Sativa Plant… This same species of plant is also called marijuana.”
To put it simply, hemp is a different variety of the cannabis plant, therefore it possesses different qualities than the marijuana variety. NIDA explains it as: “[Different] Varieties [are] grown to make hemp rope and other products.” These products “have a whole lot less of the chemical that makes marijuana users feel high. Those varieties are sometimes called industrial hemp… Varieties grown for use as a drug have been specifically bred to have lots of THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the chemical that makes users feel high.”
To put it short, unlike marijuana, hemp won’t make you high.
Marijuana typically contains upwards of 25% THC whilst hemp contains less than 1%, making it useless when smoked for a high.
The plant has been reportedly used since 770AD and can be turned into fibres which can not only be used to create products such as paper, wax, and rope, its sterilised seeds can also be used for oils in shampoos, soaps, and lotions. Though, its most important function of all, fabric for your clothing.
Hemp is most commonly compared to cotton with a drape similar to linen. Hemp is characterised by becoming softer with use, porous (breathable), quickly absorbent to moisture, and is one of the most durable fibres out there. This means that hemp will keep your body dry from sweat as well as odour free, it has better retention of dyes which slows down the fading of colours in garments and is naturally insulated, keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter.
Not only is hemp great for the wearer, but it’s also beneficial for our planet!
Due to its absorbent qualities, hemp uses 1/20th of the amount of water that is used to grow and process regular cotton. It is naturally less vulnerable to insects and weeds which in turn makes pesticides and fertilizers obsolete during the growing phase.
Unlike cotton, which is known for depleting nutrients in the soil, hemp can be grown repeatedly for over twenty years without the soil being affected, and instead, found to help restore soils and reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Lastly, hemp needs to be harvested and processed by hand which not only cuts down machinery use, it helps to keep people employed.
As great as hemp is, due to misconceptions about its sister plant marijuana, the hemp industry hasn’t been taken advantage of as much as it could be, and even classified as illegal in some countries. Here in Australia, when cannabis was outlawed in the 30’s, hemp was dragged along with it.
Nowadays it is legal to grow hemp with a state government-issued license, the plant is still classified as ‘Cannabis’ under the ‘Drugs, Poisons, and Controlled Substance Act 1981’. There are currently around 2,500 hectares of hemp cultivation in Australia, with Tasmania being the leading state. South Australia’s first commercial crop was only introduced last year  and is expected to be worth $3 million per year within the next five years, yet, still lacks industry support for research and marketing.
Due to its ban in the 1930’s, the Australian hemp industry is set back nearly 100 years in its production and market development. Nevertheless, there are still great local Australian brands that you can support that specialises in hemp products.
No Moss is a brand that aims to “help people heal and balance their bodies while not harming the Earth in the process.” Through their health and tea blends and hemp tees, they aim to “reduce the waste we leave on this planet while also caring for your body” through plastic-free and sustainable products to help slow down our footprint.
Their tees are made from a blend of hemp and organic sustainable cotton, and are hand-dyed with natural dyes from plants; their yellows are created with turmeric, and their greens are made with spinach. They’re also lightweight and stronger than the average cotton tee due to its hemp blend.
Afends is a Byron Based clothing brand that is most popular for their denim. Their mission is to “be at the forefront of sustainability in edgy lifestyle fashion while also inspiring our customers to think differently, question everything, and shake the constraints of society… Afends is committed to sustainability and creating a permanent change within the fashion industry that moves away from the exploitation of people and the planet.”
Their denim products are made from a blend of hemp, cotton, and organic cotton twill, and are available in 3 traditional denim shades.
Afends also offers more than just denim, their hemp products range from hats, socks, and bags, to shirts, shorts, and jackets.
Hemp Clothing Australia
Hemp Clothing Australia “offers a modern take on the world's oldest natural fibre—hemp.” Their goal is to tackle the unsustainable and non-renewable practices of the clothing industry and tackle fast fashion. To do so, they are determined to make sustainable fashion the mainstream, not the alternative. “We are committed to producing quality over quantity, working with high-quality natural fibres to create long-lasting, classic pieces which don't go out of style. We don’t operate by the unsustainable timetable of seasonal collections; we make timeless and trans-seasonal pieces, with versatility and function at the forefront.”
With a large variety to choose from for both men’s and women’s fashion, their minimalistic products include shirts, pants, socks, and bed linens. Their sock come in a range of fun, yet minimalistic styles that are made from 51% hemp, 38% organic cotton, and 11% spandex.
Here at Sustainable Clothing Co., we are proud supporters of hemp, so proud that we hosted a celebration for it! Teaming up with local hemp brands such as No Moss and Afends to teach you everything about hemp and living sustainably, featuring Mikaelanvp Styling for a hemp-inspired runway show and your chance to win a raffle basket full of $500 worth of hemp goodies; a great way to begin your journey into hemp clothing!
For more details on future sustainable clothing-related events, visit our Events page.
Written by SCO fam member Tatjana Di Maria