Hemp clothing is made from Hemp fiber which is taken from the plants of the Cannabis family. Cannabis is a dioecious plant that can be produced into fiber cloth. The plant, being of major technological importance as a fiber and being one of the most influential psychoactive plants in human culture, was most likely a key trade item from a very early date.
Now, hemp is difficult to grow in the United States even for industrial use because of its association with marijuana. The two plants belong to the same species, but they have been bred to achieve different ends, and industrial hemp does not contain enough tetrahydrocannabinol to make it a psychoactive substance.
The first cultivation of hemp in America seems to have been in Nova Scotia in 1606 and it subsequently became widely grown across North America for its use as a fiber. Hemp clothing was the major part of wearable products until the 1920’s. Until that time, it made up nearly 80% of the clothing market.
The Chinese are currently the world’s largest producer of this controversial fabric. The Chinese hemp clothes makers use a chemical process to create the fabrics while their contemporaries on the European continent use cleaner, biological enzyme technology to produce similar fabrics for hemp clothing. Thousands of years back, the cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes was attempted and it was used to manufacture rope, canvas, paper, and clothing until alternative textiles for these purposes were discovered.
The typical hemp fabric used is not as white as cotton. It does not have the same softness as the cotton fabrics as well. To manage this, manufacturers used a blend of cotton and hemp. Advances in breeding of the plants and treatment of the fibers have also resulted in a much finer, softer fiber, which is ideal for weaving into clothing. In Canada, manufacturers have created a process to make them into a softer and whiter product known as crailar; a fabric much more similar to cotton. Growing industrial hemp in the United States is heavily regulated, although Canada, its neighboring nation, grows commercial amounts of hemp.
This fabric is much stronger than conventional clothing products. It has approximately three times the strength of ordinary cotton products. Hemp clothing is also more lightweight and absorbent. It is ideal for outdoor wear because of its resistance to ultraviolet radiation and mold.