Few plants are as resilient and versatile as hemp. From biofuel to foodstuff, medicine to construction material, humans have cultivated it for thousands of years, spreading its seed from its birthplace in Central Asia to the most remote corners of the world.
Hemp is now considered as fashionable as it is sustainable.
One of hemp’s earliest and enduring uses has been as a textile. Some 7,000 years ago, farmers in Ancient China began converting the plant’s cane fibers into a fabric they used in the fields, due to its ruggedness and thermal properties.
It swiftly became one of the most traded commodities in the region until the 13th century, when Indian cotton began to spread across the markets.
Hemp’s history in the U.S.
Even through centuries of changing geopolitics, hemp was commonplace and widely used. President George Washington grew it at home. The first US flag was made from it. Even Reefer Madness couldn’t snuff out its usefulness.
During the Second World War, a nationwide propaganda film—Hemp For Victory—invited American farmers to include this crop in their gardens, for the military to use in creating ropes for the navy.
But as new technologies arose, hemp fabric was slowly overtaken by new materials—wool, denim, and synthetics such as nylon, to name a few—and no longer en vogue. Fewer people used it every year, and those who did were mainly field workers, hippies, or back-to-the-land movements who prized organic textiles.
The resurgence of textile hemp
The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in the US made it legal to grow hemp with less than 0.3% THC. Since then, more and more fashion brands have embraced the hemp plant, praising its low-cost, durable, antibacterial, and UV-resistant qualities. And we’re not talking about baggy pants and loose shirts; hemp is now considered as fashionable as it is sustainable.
We scoured the globe in search of companies incorporating hemp in their designs and these are some of our favorites. Here’s what’s trending.
The king of outdoor fashion has answered the call. Patagonia takes its commitment to the planet very seriously, so much so that it developed a whole line made from hemp blended with organic cotton, recycled polyester, and lyocell, which comes from tree pulp.
From breathable shorts to snazzy vests and retro overalls, Patagonia has created garments that range from sportswear to workwear, highlighting the resilience and positive impact of this natural fiber (which uses little water and doesn’t need synthetic fertilizers to be grown).
“It all started as a joke”, says Bernardo Carreira, founder of 8000 Kicks, when asked about how the company started. “We weren’t serious in the beginning, but when we started to find out more about the plant and its properties, we understood it was a game-changer. Hemp had the potential to change the fashion industry.”
Splitting his time between Portugal and the USA, Carreira has elevated 8000 Kicks to a leader in the sustainable footwear industry. Now, he’s taking over luggage. Their latest launch is this waterproof and expandable backpack—perfect for the metropolis dweller and the adventure seeker alike.
Hemp and Hope
What we love about this brand—beyond the fact that its ethos focuses on slow fashion and supporting workers in the Himalayas who hand make all the pieces—is that three trees are planted for every order.
The earthy vibes of Hemp and Hope’s apparel carry the energy of Pokhara and Kathmandu, where expert seamstresses use sustainable hemp fiber sourced from Bajura and Baglung, spun through traditional techniques that have survived centuries.
Since its founding in 2002, Astral had in mind the idea to design a line that would invite its users to explore the wilderness with the lowest environmental impact.
In 2020, when the plastic crisis flooded rivers and oceans, the company decided to incorporate hemp in most of their shoe’s upper materials, including their chukker boot. Made from 77% hemp, 23% recycled polyester, and a rubber sole, this shoe has become an icon of Astral and a favorite of surfer Garret McNamara, one of their top ambassadors.
Launched by brothers Alex (a former football player at Yale) and Mike (a Fashion Designer from Washington University) this family-run business uses mostly sustainable and recycled fibers—85% of all their materials—including hemp, which are dyed with non-toxic colorants.
Faherty has also vowed to replace their plastic packaging with eco-friendly paper bags. The vibe: West Coast surfer meets chill city explorer.
These spectacles will make you rethink the way we look at hemp. This Edinburgh-based company has turned hemp into sustainable eyewear, 100% made from plant-based materials.
Hemp Eyewear offers a Hempcare program of lifetime free repairs and a recycle policy, which guarantees that any manufacturing or material defects, as well as breakages, will be repaired free of charge.
If the frame is too banged up to be revived, the company recycles your glasses and offers a discount (up to 30%) on a new pair. And if you don’t like any of the available models, you can opt for the customization program, which allows you to tailor the color of the frame, temple, and lens (and add some extra panache with personalized text).
When it comes to fashion, few may think of Romania as a reference point—but Ionuț Rus is changing that. The founder of De Ionescu is shaking up the menswear scene with highly tailored suits that are 100% handmade from hemp fibers in Transylvania, following a “neo-ethnic” approach.
“Such as old stories told in a new light, we cultivate a very old tradition by adapting it to the contemporary lifestyle of the Silicon Age,” says Ionuț. “We dream about weaving a new normality by bringing hemp back to life all around the world.”
According to archaeobotanical research, Thracian tribes that inhabited the Romanian territory used the hemp plant, a legacy that De Ionescu honors in each of its bohemian and slick suits.
Despite cannabis’ long history in Japan (Shinto Buddhists used it for incense and to craft robes and ropes), prohibition has reframed cannabinoids as hard drugs.
Manastash is making sure to elevate the plant and it’s reputation through sustainable outdoor clothes. Originally founded in Seattle in 1993, the company is now settled in Tokyo, but the Pacific Northwest spirit remains in each of their garments, ideal for rock climbers and hypebeasts alike.