Environment Magazine

Hemp Clothing | Natural Fiber Clothing

Posted on the 13 July 2011 by I Prefer Organic @ipreferorganic

hemp-clothingHemp clothing is strong, durable and naturally wrinkle-resistant. Hemp clothes offer the cool hand of linen and the softness of cotton. Hemp fibers are longer, stronger, more absorbent, more mildew and microbe-resistant, and more insulative than cotton. This means that hemp clothing will keep you warmer in winter and cooler in summer than cotton. Apart from all these qualities, hemp is one of the most ecologically friendly plants due to which hemp clothes can easily be made from organic fiber. When grown organically, hemp fiber ‘breathes’ and is biodegradable. Hemp clothing looks great, feels good, and protects the planet, too.

From field to fabric – Natural fiber clothing

Hemp is one of the most ecologically friendly fibers. the plant grows between 80-120 days and adjusts to many climate zones.  It does not require pesticides to aid its growth, as it is naturally pest resistant. It has been also known to reduce pests in future crops when grown in rotation. Hemp does not require herbicides, because it is grown so densely that it smothers out other plants. Finally, hemp requires little or no fertilizer and it returns 60-70% of the nutrients it takes from the soil. So, because of its unique nature, hemp can easily be grown organically.

From fabric to clothing – A quest for an organic hemp clothing

In creating healthy, organic hemp clothing, growing is only half of the picture.  Processing fiber into fabric and fabric into hemp clothing must also be done using processes that are healthy both to the individual and the environment.

Modern methods, however, mostly rely on chemical rather than mechanical processes because they are faster, less labor-intensive and therefore cheaper. For hemp clothing to be considered organic the below processes in creating hemp fabric should not involve synthetic chemicals:

  1. Separating the long fibers from the plant for spinning into yarns;
  2. Spinning and weaving these fibers into yarn;
  3. Yarn is then used to weave or knit the fabric used in hemp clothing and textile products.
  4. Cleaning and softening hemp, otherwise, it is stiff or even abrasive to the skin;
  5. Dyeing and finishing;

Hemp clothing can be dyed or stay with its “natural” color, which is simply the natural beige color of the hemp fibers after processing.  This is why hemp clothes that are with a “natural” color can vary greatly in color. By the way, hemp fibers are more absorbent to dyes, which coupled with hemp’s ability to better screen out UV rays, means that hemp material is less prone to fading than cotton fabrics are.

Finally, hemp can be made into a variety of fabrics, including high quality linen. When blended with materials such as cotton, linen, and silk, hemp provides a sturdier, longer lasting product, while maintaining quality and softness.

Is your hemp clothing really organic?

In case you want to know for sure if the hemp clothes you buy are really organic, look for an organic certification label. Because the National Organic Program standards apply to food only,  you will not see a USDA Organic seal on clothes. Textile manufacturers should turn to the International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS IWG), which is the only third-party certification program set up to accommodate organic fabric producers who want to adhere to the USDA’s rules. While other eco-labels for clothing and fabrics address raw materials, chemical finishes, or labor standards, the GOTS certification is the only one that addresses all of those.

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