As the premier plant fiber, True Hemp or Cannabis sativa has served mankind for thousands of years. This venerable fiber has always been valued for its strength and durability. Materials made from hemp have been discovered in tombs dating back to 8,000 B.C. Christopher Columbus sailed to America on ships rigged with hemp. Hemp was grown extensively in colonial America by numerous farmers including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag from hemp. In fact, its combination of ruggedness and comfort were utilized by Levi Strauss as a lightweight duck canvas for the very first pair of jeans made in California.
For thousands of years hemp was traditionally used as an industrial fiber. Sailors relied upon hemp cordage for strength to hold their ships and sails, and the coarseness of the fiber made hemp useful for canvas, sailcloth, sacks, rope, and paper.
Hemp fiber is one of the strongest and most durable of all natural textile fibers. Products made from hemp will outlast their competition by many years. Not only is hemp strong, but it also holds its shape, stretching less than any other natural fiber. This prevents hemp garments from stretching out or becoming distorted with use.
Hemp may be known for its durability, but its comfort and style are second to none. The more hemp is used, the softer it gets. Hemp doesn’t wear out, it wears in. Hemp is also naturally resistant to mold and ultraviolet light. Due to the porous nature of the fiber, hemp is more water absorbent, and will dye and retain its color better than any fabric including cotton. This porous nature allows hemp to “breathe,” so that it is cool in warm weather. Furthermore, airÍ which is trapped in the fibers is warmed by the body, making hemp garments naturally warm in cooler weather.
As a fabric, hemp provides all the warmth and softness of a natural textile but with a superior durability seldom found in other materials. Hemp is extremely versatile and can be used for countless products such as apparel, accessories, shoes, furniture, and home furnishings. Apparel made from hemp incorporates all the beneficial qualities and will likely last longer and withstand harsh conditions. Hemp blended with other fibers easily incorporates the desirable qualities of both textiles. The soft elasticity of cotton or the smooth texture of silk combined with the natural strength of hemp creates a whole newgenre of fashion design.
The possibilities for hemp fabrics are immense. It is likely that they will eventually supersede cotton, linen, and polyester in numerous areas. With so many uses and the potential to be produced cheaply, hemp textiles are the wave of the future!