History of hemp
For thousands of years humans have seen hemp as an important source of food and fibre. It was cultivated in Iraq around 8,000BC in China as early as 2,700 BC. The ancient Greeks and Romans could see the value of hemp for use as rope as they sailed the Mediterranean. When the French and British colonised America in the 17th century one of the first crops they planted was hemp, because they knew that the unusually strong fibre was perfect for making sails, rope and clothing.
For many years hemp growing was illegal in New Zealand, because of its association with the illegal drug marijuana, but it is cultivated from a different strain of cannabis that has no psychoactive properties. In 2018 New Zealand became one of the last countries in the world to legalise growing hemp.
Now this ancient plant is being used for a wide variety of purposes, including packaging, building, medicinal use and clothing.
In a world conscious of the need to reduce pesticide and chemical use, and where land and water should be conserved, hemp is once again proving its worth. Hemp can be grown chemical free, keeping contaminants out of the local ecosystem and out of the final hemp products.
Hemp seeds can be sown closer together, and the plant uses much less water than other natural products such as cotton. In some regions hemp can be grown twice or more per growing season, further increasing its sustainability.
For the wearer, hemp clothing also features a number of advantages. Hemp stands up to extensive wear due to its long, strong fibre structure, resulting in added durability. Fabric made from hemp also stands up to repeated washing, growing softer and more comfortable over time.
Hemp fabric properties
Hemp fabric is mould, mildew and microbe resistant. Clothing made from hemp is very breathable and has excellent insulation properties, keeping the wearer warm in winter and cool in summer. Its UV resistant properties makes it ideal for those who spend long hours outdoors.
The natural processing techniques used also make hemp clothing ideal for people with chemical sensitivities. Hemp fibre easily accepts natural dyes and can be bleached without the use of harsh chemicals.
While hemp has impressive durability, nothing lasts forever. When hemp clothing is no longer wearable it can biodegrade completely, leaving a minimal footprint.
At Hemphouse we not only produce ecologically-sound, fashionable clothing, but we ensure our hemp is ethically sourced from small farmers in India. Our stoles/scarves are finished with hand-made tassels by the weavers of the Mandakini Women Weavers Association. They receive 35% of the income from the stoles that are sold.
The beneficial properties of hemp that are conferred to the fabric and the eco-friendly nature of the hemp plant growth cycle are the primary reasons we are showcasing this amazing fabric in our clothing line. We hope that our customers embrace hemp clothing and know they are purchasing the better and more ethical option. Here’s to our journey together.