Picture hemp-based clothes, and you’ll likely imagine a rough textile akin to a burlap sack — but that may soon change. “In 20 years [hemp] will be the fabric of the future,” states Isabel Siracusa, Fabric Developer for denim brand Orta Anadolu. With the ratification of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is poised to become a fully industrialized commodity, as the bill allows for the plant to be legally farmed throughout the country. As Siracusa affirms, that may well lead to hemp to be more widely utilized in the fashion industry. However, hemp’s potential adoption as the textile of choice would likely disrupt fashion’s current number one raw material: cotton.
Cotton is a seemingly innocuous textile. And yet, the production of the textile for the fashion industry has had detrimental environmental impacts. Although fashion’s true contribution to climate change is hotly debated, the industry’s sheer size means its impact on the world can’t be ignored.
“In 20 years [hemp] will be the fabric of the future.”
Rob Jungmann, founder of Manastash and owner of Jungmaven was elated to hear of industrial hemp’s legal status. Jungmann has advocated for hemp’s use in fashion for decades, having spent countless hours educating himself and others on the crop.
Jungmann became one of the early contemporary vanguards to experiment with the fabric in his designs. “In the ‘90s, there was a big boom, around ‘94 to ‘98. There was a big taste for it,” he explains to HYPEBEAST. He founded his first brand, Manatash, in 1993, and rooted the label in a “healthy clothing” ethos.
He created his second fashion label, Jungmaven, in 2012 with similarly ethical intentions. Jungmann’s goal is to raise awareness for the positive environmental impacts of hemp farming and, in his eyes, “the T-Shirt [is] the easiest way to spread this message.”
Other brands small and large have followed a similar model to Jungmann in using hemp-based clothes to communicate a philosophy. Levi’s® Wellthread™ x Outerknown Spring/Summer 2019 collection introduced “cottonized hemp” denim garments, furthering Levi’s commitment to sustainable fashion. The innovative process in creating “cottonized hemp” has also allowed hemp’s texture, which is naturally rather rough, to feel as comfortable as its more famous counterpart.