Hemp is a so called bast fibre and is made from the stems of the hemp plant (cannabis sativa). It is one of the oldest fibres used for textile production. Especially during the Middle Ages, before cotton became a mass product and conquered the European markets, hemp was one of the most used and popular natural fibres. Even in the beginning of the twentieth century it was grown all over Europe, but today the market is dominated by Chinese hemp. To this day it remains a highly valued natural product that is applied in fashion, interior design but because of it’s strength also in bio-composites.
Hemp is considered to be one of the most sustainable textiles known. The plant doesn’t require irrigation during growth, has almost no natural enemies (insects) and therefore needs no treatment with pesticides. Because it grows very fast (up to four metres in just a couple of months) weeds don’t stand a chance, don’t hamper the growth of the hemp, and herbicides are not necessary. Hemp is a natural product, it is 100% biodegradable and recyclable and feels very nice on the skin.
no irrigation needed
no chemical treatment
Hemp almost disappeared in Europe and Northern America in the 1930’s, not only because of the competition of cotton and synthetic fibres, but also as a result of anti drug legislation. The ‘industrial’ hemp that is now used in textile applications hardly contains any of the psychoactive component THC. Because hemp is today widely appreciated as a sustainable fiber, it is now making a slow come back in Europe. One of the problems is that, together with the machines used in the different stages of the textile making process, much knowledge has disappeared.
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