Monday, 22 October 2012

The Universes Pupils // Hemp Fabrics

Using Print based medium create, brand and design a new and innovative clothing company that uses ethical modes of production and distribution based around skateboarding culture and current trends.

-A print based investigation of retail and garment design with a focus on hemp and natural fabrics, looking at unique cuts of apparel.

In terms of my personal brief, I want to look into sustainability and ethical materials, Today we roam around in hundreds of thousands of miles of cotton, I want my clothing company to promote environmentally friendly fabrics, specifically looking at hemp.

What Is Hemp
Hemp is a term reserved mainly for low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) varieties of the plant Cannabis sativa. Of the approximately 2000 cannabis plants varieties known, about 90% contain only low-grade THC and are most useful for their fiber, seeds and medicinal or psychoactive oils. Hemp is one of the earliest domesticated plants known.

In modern times hemp is used for industrial purposes including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, construction, body products, health food and bio-fuel. Hemp is thus legally grown in many countries across the world including Spain, China, Japan, Korea, France, North Africa and Ireland. Although hemp is commonly associated with marijuana (hemp's THC-rich cousin), since 2007 the commercial success of hemp food products has grown considerably.

Interesting Facts about hemp
For Starters:

-Farmers around the world grow hemp. Legally. And they've been doing so for thousands of years. View a timeline of hemp throughout history.

-Hemp is a plant grown from a seed. It can get up to 15 to 20 or so feet tall. It is an annual, herbaceous, long fibre plant similar to flax (linen), jute and ramie.

-It's the sister plant to marijuana but it won't get you high. However, it's good at doing almost anything else except making you 'high'. You'll learn more about its versatility in this document.

-Although hemp and marijuana are both from the cannabis species, hemp contains virtually no THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.) If you smoke hemp you will likely get a headache. You will not get 'high'. Its THC level is less than 1%, whereas marijuana may contain between 5 - 15%.

-Its seeds are pressed for oil that can be used for food (salad dressings, supplements, etc.), industrial lubrication, diesel fuel, paints, varnishes and more.

-Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa L.

-Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery.

-The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a piece of Mesopotamian hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.

-For more than a century, hemp was legal tender to pay American taxes.

-Over 600,000 acres of hemp grow worldwide today. Over 8,500 acres were grown in Canada in 2008.

Fibres, Fabric & Clothing:

-The agriculture world’s longest and most durable natural fibres are hemp’s ‘bast’ fibres, contained in the bark of the plant’s stalk.

-CinemaSpace, in Montreal, is Canada's first cinema to use hemp fabric to cover its seats.

-In 1853, the first pair of Levi’s jeans was made. Due to a fire in the Levis archives (San Francisco's Great Earthquake and Fire - 1906 ) it can no longer be proven, but many believe the first pair of Levis were made from hemp.

-The word canvas (traditionally made from hemp) comes from cannabis (Latin). This word comes from kaneh-bosem, Hebrew for ‘aromatic cane’.

-Un-dyed hemp fabric will not rot and won’t fade in sunlight.

-Hemp is anti-microbial, anti-mildew, naturally UV resistant and readily takes on eco-safe plant-based dyes.

-Frequently blended with cotton, silk, tencel, bamboo, spandex and other fibres to make a wide variety of fabrics with various attractive properties. It is also an efficient insulator keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer.

Compared to Cotton:

-Environmentally, hemp is a safer crop to grow than cotton. Cotton is a soil-damaging crop and needs a great deal of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

-Cotton crops in the USA occupy 1% of the country’s farmland but use 50% of all pesticides. "The pesticides used on cotton, whether in the U.S. or oversees, are some of the most hazardous available today," says Doug Murray, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at Colorado State University who has studied pesticide use on cotton overseas.

-1 acre of hemp will produce as much as 2-3 acres of cotton.

-Hemp is 4 times warmer than cotton, 4 times more water absorbent, has 3 times the tensile strength of cotton. It is also many times more durable and is flame retardant.

-Many high fashion clothing manufacturers have produced clothes and footwear made with hemp. Some of these include: Nike, Converse, Armani, Patagonia, Polo Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta and many more.

-Hemp fabrics were once far more expensive than cotton and other fabrics due to limited supply, but increased demand and availability in recent years have lowered the price considerably.

-Hemp breathes well and wicks moisture away from the body better than cotton.


I've done alot of research into wholesale suppliers of hemp within the u.k and sources abroad in China, In comparison to cotton it seems rather hard to get hold of! There's suppliers out there but negotiating an overall price for a bulk load seems to be quite difficult, I've done some research into different places that just stock meters of hemp material. As a compromise I could collaborate with some of my friends in fashion/textiles and get the t-shirts made from scratch ready to print on.

The companies below, I've emailed to inquire about wholesale prices. As I'll want around 10/20 shirts to keep costs down I need to buy in bulk so finding a cheap but reasonable supplier is essential. My mandatory requirements are 10 printed t-shirts, but realistically I think half of them will turn out to be test pieces and mock ups.


The website below sells all sorts of hemp products including, rope, webbing yarn and sheet fabric. I want to keep the packaging as ethical as possible, and sticking with a consistent hemp theme I was thinking of using the yarn to tie tags and labels to the garments I produce.