NewsBriefs BUTTONS

Fashion Designers Rediscover Hemp


February 1995

Although it has been used in clothing for centuries, fashion designers in the U.S. are rediscovering the benefits of using hemp in their creations (Kathleen Williams, "Climate May Be Right for a Revival of Hemp," Los Angeles Times Ventura County Life, Dec. 29, 1994, p. 26).

Throughout time, hemp has not only been used for clothing, but for paper, sails and rope. The cotton gin and the attitude of the federal government toward growing hemp halted the manufacture of hemp clothes in the U.S.

Imported hemp fashions from China and Eastern Europe have been popular among marijuana activists for some time, but the clothing did not hit the mainstream markets until recently. European designers are creating new textile blends by mixing hemp with silk or flax.

In the U.S., designer Lisa Sauvageau from Ojai, California is working on a line of clothing made from a blend of hemp and cotton. "I am not going to use hemp just because it's hemp," she said. "I chose it because of the texture. It's right for what I do. It has a very linen-like finish, and the speckles are very beautiful."

Sauvageau said that the quality of hemp fabric and a new consciousness about environmentalism will help hemp succeed in spite of its relationship with banned marijuana.

England and Canada are starting to grow hemp for clothing, and Kentucky is considering the commercial uses of the plant.