Far from new-age, hemp was grown by colonial American farmers—in fact, the first American flag sewn by Betsy Ross was made from it. As a fabric, hemp outperforms cotton in strength and durability. Naturally resistant to mold and ultraviolet light, when softened the fabric can feel softer than fleece. As a crop, hemp requires no pesticides, GMO seeds or synthetic fertilizers—it actually scrubs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. While the US imports millions of dollars worth of hemp each year, the 2014 Farm Bill opened up some doors for commercial, pilot and research programs—and companies are waking up to hemp’s attributes. We decided to round up some of our favorite items of clothing made with the clever material.
Patagonia Workwear Cap
Patagonia has been using hemp for years (and even helped fund programs like Growing Warriors, which assists veterans in agriculture careers, with hemp as one of the focus crops) but the new Workwear Line is a departure from their usual. Featuring their trademarked Iron Forge Hemp, the line is an homage to Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s blacksmithing days—when he made climbing gear. Produced from a blend of industrial hemp, recycled polyester and organic cotton, our favorite piece is the Tin Shed Work Hat ($29) which is available in coriander brown or ink black. Soft but tough enough to hold structure better than regular duck canvas, the fabric is super durable.
Started by Volcom executives Troy Eckert and Derek Sabori, KOZM aimed to meet their needs for a good pair of yoga shorts. In addition to the shorts, their Baja hoodie ($84) is made from woven hemp and recycled PET blend fabric, all in the USA. It’s lightweight, comfortable and well-consider, down to the pouch pockets. An added positive: 5% of each sale supports the Warrior Spirit Retreat.
Founded by environmentalist and conservationist Robert Jungmann, the Jungmaven brand has been a pioneer in the hemp movement since the early ’90s. Besides making some of the softest, most durable hemp T-shirts on the planet, as well as sustainable hemp linens, the brand recently expanded their collection to include dresses, button-down shirts and—our favorite—a jumpsuit ($218). Its 55% hemp / 45% organic cotton twill blend makes for quite the comfortable experience.
Black Diamond Equipment Shoes
A leader in climbing since Yvon Chouinard (who, as we mentioned, also founded Patagonia) made gear and sold it out of his car, Black Diamond Equipment has expanded constantly—and most recently with shoes. The brand’s first release in this sector is the Momentum shoe ($90), made from engineered knit technology and hemp. These velcro rocking shoes ventilate the feet while the wearer climbs and walks. Further, the hemp lining is soft on the skin.
Images by A.V. Wakefield