Fiber for Textiles
Hemp fabric is made from the long strands of fiber that make up the stalk of the plant. These fibers are separated from the bark through a process called “retting.” These fibers are then spun together to produce a continuous thread that can be woven into a fabric.
The various stages of this process can be done organically through a mechanical process that requires no chemicals. However, many companies now produce hemp fabric chemically, in a process that is much more intensive on the environment, but faster and cheaper to create.
History of Hemp
Hemp is one of the earliest known sustainable industrial materials used in the production of textile products. Ironically it’s long history and with the resurrection of hemp in the textiles industry both in the United States and globally is a very exciting time for the textile industry. There is evidence of hemp fiber being used to improve pottery 10,000 years ago, and was one of the first known agricultural crops! Some of the earliest uses of hemp as a fiber for textiles can be found dating back to 4,000 BC in China and Turkestan making its initial use in textiles roughly 1,000 years earlier than that of cotton.
The first planting of hemp in the United States was in the 1600s in Virginia from hemp seeds brought over by European settlers aboard sailing ships rigged with sails and rope made from hemp. Hemp was introduced to Kentucky in the late 1700s becoming one of Kentucky’s largest cash crops.
Cottonized hemp makes hemp feel like cotton
The introduction of cottonized hemp is huge. Not just for Levi's but for the entire industry. While hemp crops use significantly less water with less than half the carbon footprint, until now, it’s delivered a rough texture, closer to linen than cotton.
To solve this, Levi's partnered with fiber technology specialists to create a “cottonization” process that softens the fiber (using very little energy or chemical processing) to make it look, and more importantly feel, almost indistinguishable from cotton. The innovative development of this rain-fed hemp allows it to be woven like cotton into your jeans – same great feel, a lot less water.
Cottonized hemp looks and feels, almost indistinguishable from cotton. The innovative development of this rain-fed hemp allows it to be woven like cotton into jeans and other garments. The fabric maintains a great feel and what appears to be a lot less water.
Per our understanding, this Cottonized Hemp does NOT utilize cotton. It is hemp that is made to feel soft like cotton.
Hemp + Less Water (with "no" actual cotton). However, the cottonized hemp yarn can be blended with cotton yarns to create a hemp & cotton blend fabric. For example, the 2019 Levi's® WellThread™ X Outerknown Trucker Jacket is 69% cotton / 31% hemp.
The impact of the fabric doesn’t just stop once it has been woven, either. Once the fabric has been created, it may be dyed, which again can result in various environmental outcomes, depending on the technique used.
So the production phase is a bit less clear-cut. Although hemp is a sustainable crop to grow, we still need to be sure that the process being used to turn the plant into a fabric is low-impact.
What we can supply
Stretch Knit Fabrics
TEXCELL™ Hemp Lyocell blend
Stretch Woven Fabrics
Our products and materials always equal or out-perform traditional materials. Quality and performance are non-negotiable. From seeds to harvest, we pay close attention so we always deliver consistent, high-quality products.