By Theresa Hegel
The legalization of industrial U.S. hemp cultivation in the 2018 farm bill has already had an impact on the promotional products industry – namely in the growing desire for CBD-infused products – but suppliers are also seeing a rising demand for apparel and accessories made from hemp.
“We’re getting more requests for hemp products than ever before,” says Kriya Stevens, marketing manager for econscious Apparel (asi/51656). “Retail companies like Patagonia and Prana have used hemp in their lines for a while, but now we’re seeing hemp content become more readily available in the imprintables market because there’s a real thirst for them.”
Hemp is sometimes referred to as a “golden fiber” because of its beneficial qualities, according to Sion Shaman, owner of Expert Brand (asi/53404). “It naturally offers properties such as high moisture absorbency, heat conductivity and excellent abrasion tendencies; it’s also shown to offer some antibacterial pr [...]
It was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago. It has been grown and used all over the world. The first president of the United States of America even grew it as a cash crop.
Is it cotton? No—it’s hemp.
Hemp was a major cash crop in the Eastern United States until 1937, when it was outlawed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Since then, hemp has been illegal to grow and sell until almost a year ago, when President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, legalizing hemp by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. Late last month, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a program that would allow farmers to grow hemp under federally-approved plans and make hemp producers eligible for a number of agricultural programs. This is big news for the hemp industry.
Our water, air, and land are being polluted more than ever by textile manufacturing byproducts and plastic microparticles. With its resurgence as a cash crop and ability to integrate [...]
When Jon Flaks launched his Los Angeles–headquartered brand Nusumeria on Instagram in July 2019, he forecasted that he was going to sell styles to people looking to complete their athleisure wardrobes. The response that came next was a pleasant surprise.
Within days of posting pictures of duffel bags and slim-fit hoodies on the Instagram profile @nusumeria, he got regular inquiries from yoga studios and CBD-oil brands. These companies wanted to know if Flaks, who was new to the apparel business, could create private-label clothing for them and put their logos on his hoodies and duffel bags.
“I never planned to do any private label,” Flaks said. “Day after day, I was getting approached by two to three companies because I was one of the only people making hemp sportswear.”
He currently estimates that half of his business is private label, while general consumers make up the other half.
Flaks had been selling what he said was 55 percent hemp, 45 percent organic-cotton hoodies. T [...]
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With commercial production of hemp now legalized in the U.S., experts question the fiber as a sustainable alternative to virgin cotton.
Industrial hemp is in the spotlight again, and for good reason. The new Farm Bill that the U.S. Senate passed 87-13 in December now legalizes the commercial production of hemp, freeing it from the grips of the Controlled Substance Act and severely curtailing the number of restrictions that have prevented farmers from raising it as a commodity crop like any other.
“Even if the government comes up with a regulatory framework, states have to adopt it,” said Mike Lewis, director of Thirds Wave Farms in Kentucky and one of the first private citizens to legally farm hemp—through a partnership with Patagonia in 2016—since its prohibition in the 1970s. “We have a long ways to go and a lot of legislating that needs to be drafted. But we’re heading in the right direction. I think it’ll be two or three years before it’s extremely common.”
Hemp is one of the most powerful plants in the world, producing twice as much fiber as cotton, using far less water and pesticides… and fixing the soil while it’s at it!
Because of its misunderstood association with marijuana, it’s been illegal to grow in the United States for over 80 years.
But luckily, for the people and the planet, Congress finally passed The Hemp Farming Act in the farm bill in December, giving American clothing manufacturers a local, more affordable source of hemp fiber.
In an effort to brand itself as more sustainable, Levi Strauss will now be offering jeans made out of 30% hemp, 70% cotton. 100% hemp would be nice, but hey, it’s a start.
The company had some concerns about how hemp would be received by consumers who have grown accustomed to the texture of cotton. Hemp can be a bit rough or stiff, like linen.
So Levi’s has come up with a way to “cottonize” the feel of it.
“We partnered with fiber technology specialists to create a ‘cottonizatio [...]
On the surface, the fashion industry had a good year in 2018, with Americans spending $391.5 billion on clothing and footwear. That was a 4% increase year-over-year and the highest level of growth since 2011 when spending increased 5.1%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis NIPA table 2.3.5.
But digging into the data further, Americans have steadily decreased their share of disposable income on clothing and footwear, sliding from 3.8% in 2007 to 3.0% in 2019, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey. Even more alarming though is at the turn of the century fashion’s share of Americans’ spending was 4.9%.
In simple terms, American consumers are losing their interest in what fashion brands have on offer. Otherwise they’d be devoting a greater share of their wallets to updating their wardrobes. The fashion industry needs some radical new ideas to get back on American’s shopping lists.
Hemp may be one of those radical new ideas. Hemp would [...]
Industrial hemp is big in Europe, where there’s been widespread adoption of sustainable, green materials in manufacturing. This startup is trying to grow a business and a new U.S. industry.
Kentucky’s foray into industrial hemp has fueled a Louisville startup which is betting that natural fibers someday will become a key ingredient in hundreds of American-made products – furnace filters, kayaks, skis, even coffee mugs.
Sunstrand Kentucky_Hemp_Production was launched by Oldham County native Trey Riddle in summer 2014 after the state of Kentucky’s successful push to sanction hemp production.
The company contracts with Kentucky farmers to grow hemp and a cousin crop called kenaf. It’s also developed a way to process and coat natural fibers. They are then sold to “upstream” buyers who make pellets for other manufacturers as a drop-in replacement or substitute for more expensive, energy-intensive plastics and glass fibers. Their fibers currently are undergoing trials for crea [...]