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  • Aundrea Foster

Hemp fabrics offer a sustainable and trendy solution for fashion brands around the world


Although hemp fabrics are nothing new, they seem to be sparking a new interest in the fashion industry.


At the beginning of March, American denim brand Levi’s and Danish label Ganni announced their collaboration on a new clothing collection made from hemp. Around the same time that this announcement was released, Weekday, a Swedish H&M brand, launched a limited edition plant-based collection made from hemp.


New mainstream clothing features cottonized hemp


The clothing collection that Levi’s and Ganni are developing includes women’s denim pieces, like pants, jackets and dresses. All of these products will be made from cottonized hemp fabric.


The fabric is said to be ‘cottonized’ because it has received a treatment to soften the fibers to make them look and feel more like cotton. In this collection, Levi’s will undoubtedly bring to the partnership its previous experience working with this fabric type, while Ganni will reportedly bring its “playful touch.”


This will be the second time these two brands are collaborating on a collection. The two brands reportedly bonded over a shared passion for “authenticity, originality and sustainability,” according to Levi’s chief product officer Karyn Hillman.


“We’re a huge fan of Ganni’s work and this collaboration was an opportunity to inject their signature and effortless femininity into Levi’s iconic denim, using next level sustainable materials with cottonized hemp,” Hillman reportedly said.


Ganni’s creative director, Ditte Reffstrup reportedly said that it feels great to work with a brand that has similar goals.


“Working with Levi’s has been so much fun,” she reportedly said. “From the moment we met, there was instant chemistry, and we felt really aligned on our visions from the very beginning.”


A hemp crop can serve multiple purposes


On March 4, Weekday launched its Plant Based Limited Edition collection. This unisex collection includes hemp-enhanced denim and plant-dyed clothing. Some featured pieces of this collection include a jacket, a hoodie sweatshirt, pants, shorts and a t-shirt.


Weekday reportedly uses waste from oil-seed hemp production to make the fabrics for this collection. This allows a single hemp crop to be turned into two very different products, which helps demonstrate how versatile this crop really is.


“Hemp as a textile can make you think of veggie spread and clothes that are available in health food stores,” Weekday’s responsible womenswear designer Alice Shulman told Dazed magazine. “We like that association and decided to maximize it in a few stand-alone pieces.”


This is not the first line of Weekday products to be made with hemp fabric. The brand’s mainline denim collection is also reportedly made with hemp.


Five reasons hemp is better than cotton


Media reports indicate that Levi’s, Ganni and Weekday each started experimenting with hemp products to enhance the sustainability of their company. Although cotton is currently the dominant plant fiber on the market, companies like these could be onto something that ends up changing the entire industry.


While hemp and cotton fabrics may be able to fill the same niche in the fashion industry, they aren’t very competitive with each other in the field.


Hemp is a more sustainable crop than cotton because

  • Hemp plants can be harvested after only 70 to 110 days, while cotton requires about 160 days

  • A field of hemp produces two or three times as much fiber as a field of cotton

  • Hemp improves the soil by removing toxins and adding nitrogen and oxygen

  • Hemp uses about 70% less water than cotton

  • Hemp is naturally resistant to many pests, which results in less need for pesticides than cotton has

Fabric and clothing companies are still figuring out all of the possible application for hemp fabrics, but so far, reports indicate that hemp outperforms cotton even after their fibers are converted into fabric. Hemp fabrics are reportedly stronger, more absorbent, more durable, better insulating and better at retaining dyed colors than cotton fabrics. Some hemp fabrics may even have antimicrobial properties.


“Hemp has been around for decades, but its development got delayed because it was banned,” Swedish denim designer Per Axén told Dazed magazine. “The processing of hemp is similar to that of cotton . . . [but] it requires a lot less land, water, and pesticides compared to cotton and enriches the soil it’s grown on.”


Sources:

[1] https://www.greenqueen.com.hk/levis-x-ganni-fashion-duo-joins-forces-to-launch-denim-collection-made-out-of-cottonized-hemp/

[2] https://sourcingjournal.com/denim/denim-brands/levis-ganni-cottonized-hemp-collaboration-floral-sustainable-denim-264797/

[3] https://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/52061/1/new-weekday-denim-hemp-collection-plant-based-limited-edition

[4] https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/levis-hemp-sustainable-fabric/#:~:text=Levi's%20%22Cottonized%22%20Hemp%20Is%20Ready%20to%20End%20Cotton's%20Reign&text=It%20can%20produce%20two%20to,material%2C%20making%20products%20last%20longer.

[5] https://barnhardtcotton.net/blog/journey-of-cotton-harvesting/#:~:text=Cotton%20is%20fully%20mature%20and,parts%20of%20the%20cotton%20belt.