Why is Hemp Fabric Better?

Hemp fabric has been used for thousands of years, with clothing found in modern-day Iraq that was dated as far back as 8,000 B.C.! There were further discoveries in Europe, where Hemp fabric had been dated to about 1,200 B.C. Additionally, China has a long history of using hemp fiber as a food, paper, clothing, and rope material, and cultivation had been encouraged on a very large scale. The re-discovery of hemp has the potential to create a sustainable textile industry, and have significant impact on how clothes are made and consumer spending habits.

The global textile industry has set a goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2030. The textile industry is one of many industries to create some sort of net-zero goals, especially in light of the Paris Agreement and UN SDGs. In 2020, the textile industry was responsible for 6.7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the 4th most polluting industry in the world.

There has been significant attention paid to projects focused on recycled materials, organic materials, and alternative materials. Of these, the solution receiving the most attention and praise, and rightfully so, is Industrial Hemp. Hemp has seen a major rise in its use in denim manufacturing, and as processing techniques progress, its applications in a wider variety of end-materials will be realized.

Hemp Fiber provides significant advantages over alternatives like cotton and linen. It has high tensile strength, it is abrasion resistant, shearing resistant, provides UV protection, it is anti-microbial and gets softer over time, making it an extremely practical material.

Hemp 101: Textiles Hemp Advantages Chart on HempFederation

Currently, Hemp can be grown organically or conventionally, with organic hemp having a higher price tag. Most farmers opt to cultivate conventional hemp, as the yields are greater and it is easier to grow. It should be noted that there are a number of organic hemp certifications such as GOTS and OEKO-Tex 100, which all provide significant value in end sales.

While hemp has incredible potential, there are some disadvantages – although some of them will be solved with time and through innovation. At the moment, the biggest disadvantage is the cost of hemp clothing – this is due to the cost of processing. As more companies get involved in the cultivation and processing of fiber, it can be safely assumed that price will drop as competition increases and technological breakthroughs are discovered. Furthermore, hemp clothing is more prone to wrinkling compared to its alternatives, and requires slightly more care. It is said that Hemp has a limited color palette, this is true for unbleached fiber which is typically either brown or gray. If using bleached or semi-bleached fiber, vibrant colors can be achieved – even while maintaining sustainable practices!

Hemp vs. Other Natural Fabrics

It has been said that hemp has the potential to fully replace cotton, a bold statement that could change the . The cotton industry is worth nearly $70 billion dollars and is absolutely crucial to supporting the global $3 trillion dollar textile industry. Cotton, like hemp is a natural fiber that is cultivated and processed and has a similar process to achieving the end product, please see below for it’s process.

Hemp vs Cotton Process on HempFederation Blog

The largest differences in cotton is in its water and pesticide use. The National Wildlife Federation has said “cotton is one of the most chemically intensive crop in the world.” It has significant negative impact on both the environment and human health, and while many look to ‘organic’ cotton as the alternative, conventional and organic hemp are much more promising. Additionally, the water use of cotton is significant, making this crop extremely unsustainable in the long-term as global population increases and access to water remains crucial for survival. The table below shows the difference in water use between cotton and hemp, and it is eye-opening to see the discrepancy.

Hemp vs Cotton Water Consumption on HempFederation Blog
Linen on HempFederation blog

Linen is made from flax fiber, which is significantly more widely used than Industrial Hemp in the textile industry, as of 2021. Linen is very similar to hemp fiber, but there are differences that prove hemp to be a superior material. While both hemp and linen become softer over time, hemp is said to be the stronger material of the two. Linen also is more prone to wrinkling and does have a shorter lifespan than Industrial Hemp. It has also been discovered that linen stretches more than hemp, which could result in apparel losing its shape and becoming undesirable.

One of the most important differences is in the cultivation – hemp produces a significantly higher yield than compared to flax (linen). Furthermore, flax (linen) has low phytoremediation properties, meaning it takes nutrients out of the soil. Hemp on the other hand deposits a rich amount of material into the soil and has the ability to strengthen weak soil.

Wool on HempFederation Blog

The environmental impact of wool should be fairly obvious. Livestock farms are resource intensive and typically produce a significant amount of methane which damages our environment. Wool is also not regenerative and provides little benefit to the environment compared to hemp.

Wool comes from various types of animals, but most commonly sheep, and it involves sheering and cleaning the wool, meaning it is very easy to harvest and process. Wool is typically a much thicker material, and is more suited for clothing which is meant to keep you warm. Wool is not a vegan-friendly material, while hemp is.

Four Canadian Brands Selling Hemp Textiles:
Nomads Hemp Wear

Nomads hemp wear offers a wide variety of hemp clothing and accessories. From underwear to dresses and shoes, Nomads has been working for over two decades to produce comfortable and fashionable products in Canada.

For the past 20 years, Nomads Hemp Wear have created durable, comfortable, yet still extremely stylish eco-fashion: organic and fair-trade clothes for men and women out of the best Gaia-loving sustainable fabrics the planet has to offer. Festival friendly, fair-trade clothing for men and women in bamboo, organic cotton, soy and our own specially fabricated hemp blends that reflect our love for the earth tempered with an urban sensibility. We are proud to offer clothing to be worn from the chicken coop, to your space suit. Taking hemp from hippy to hip one shirt at a time.

Efforts Eco Essential Hemp Clothing Logo on HempFederation Directory
Effort’s Eco-Essentials

Effort’s Eco-Essentials is a Canadian company which makes high quality hemp and bamboo clothing. They claim 60% of their product line is made in Canada, with collaboration with a Chinese manufacturing factory.

Efforts Industries has supplied eco-friendly Hemp fabrics to wholesalers, designers, and other environmentally conscious businesses across North America since 1994. Today, we offer more than 20 different hemp & bamboo fabrics. Over the years, we’ve grown with the industry and evolved into designing and producing a quality line-up of clothing and accessories for the whole family, including to our retail customers online.

Tentree Clothing on HempFederation Directory

TenTree is a sustainable Canadian brand that not only provides eco-friendly clothing options, but takes steps to make our planet healthier through a number of programs. They boast that they plant 10 trees for every purchase, and offer tree planting packages on customers behalf to negate carbon emissions from activities such as Netflix Binges, International Flights, and much more.

We believe that big change starts small. Small as in bringing your reusable tote to the grocery store, getting your coffee refilled in a thermos, and choosing to wear sustainably made t-shirts. These small choices add up (trust us, we’ve done the math), and we’re here to celebrate each and every one of them. By planting 10 trees for every purchase, we hope to make big change accessible to everybody and show the lasting impact that one small choice can have.

Its Only natural logo on Hemp Federation
It’s Only Natural (i.O.N)

From the team that created Hemp & Company, i.O.N clothing is located in British Columbia, as well as having an online presence. Like Effort’s Eco Essential, they claim 60% of their product line was made in Canada. i.O.N. offers clothing for men, women, and children, as well as sustainable body care products.

Since 1999 Hemp and Company has been providing eco conscious customers with comfortable natural clothing that doesn’t cost the earth.

Hemp and Company began as a small specialty shop in New Denver, BC in 1999 and is now one of the oldest eco friendly clothing stores in North America.

Since the very beginning, our mandate has been to expand awareness about the many amazing qualities of hemp and to offer comfortable durable clothing in modern yet timeless styles. We currently carry over 50 different brands of organic and eco friendly clothing, body care and accessories lines.

All contact information for these companies is listed in our directory! Please feel free to sign-up and browse at your convenience.