Due to numerous stigmas surrounding the herb marijuana, hemp fabric has been a tough sell in the fashion market until just recently. Though “industrial hemp” is legal to use in the US, growing it is not. Hemp fabric is generally imported to the US by China, Hungary, Thailand, Romania and Chile. The farming of hemp requires no pesticides or herbicides, requires little water, and actually helps clear soil of toxins by a process called “phytoremediation,” making it far superior to cotton production. As sustainability struts to the forefront of fashion, designers have started taking note of this fiber, once thought of as the type of material found in flour sacks, not Sak’s Fifth Avenue.
During the California Gold Rush of the 1850′s, this extremely durable fabric was used for the very first pair of jeans by Levi Strauss. Even with all the cultivation challenges, hemp still makes its way into plenty of American closets today. Simple, Adidas, and New Balance are using this strong, biodegradable material for their super fly sneaker styles. Eco fashion lines like Habitude and Mountains Of The Moon have sexy,
sophisticated dresses and tops of hemp and silk blends. Recent collections by fashion giants Armani and Dolce & Gabbana have featured fiercely taylored hemp suits. Green bag designers Helen E. Riegle and GreenOne utilize this fabric for their handbags and totes, and emerging brands like Hoodlamb are using uber warm hemp-based fake fur in their urban wear.
Though the DEA may still find the use of industrial hemp controversial, the eco fashion world has embraced it for its durability, not its smokability.