Question 1: Will people know if I am wearing hemp?
Answer: No, you do not have to tell everyone, it’s not like being a vegan.
Question 2: Why does hemp not need pesticide?
Answer: Hemp is vulnerable to various pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, nematodes and viruses, however the yield is rarely affected by disease, which means that hemp has never been dependent on pesticide.
In comparison, agricultural pesticides, and their mass application to crops, has only been in operation since after Second World War, from when the technologies were developed for other purposes.
Question 3: How much water does it take to grow hemp?
Answer: According to Wikipedia, the water requirement is 300-500 l/kg dry matter. This is around 1/14th that of cotton, which takes between 7,000 and 29,000 l/kg.
Question 4: How much hemp can be harvested from one hectare?
Answer: Heaps more than either flax or cotton, and especially wool, which is a protein fibre. Check out Kate Fletcher’s book Sustainable Fashion and Textiles 2008.
Average fibre production (kg) per hectare
Question 5: Where is the oldest fabric in the world from?
Answer: A piece of 8000 year old hemp fabric found in Syria is thought to be the oldest in the world.
However, the String Revolution began some 70,000 years ago and used numerous fibres. It is arguably more important than the stone tools, for which the Palaeolithic epoch is named after. The very lack of remnants of the String Revolution is the perfect testimony to natural fibres ability to biodegrade, and this demonstrates a bright-spot for the future of mass consumerism.
Question 6: Where does Triodia Apparel source it’s textiles from?
Answer: China. China is probably the origin of hemp. China has a recorded 6000 year continuous use of hemp. China currently supplies 70% of the world’s hemp textiles.
Question 7: If hemp was so useful, why did it decline in world production?
Answer: There are a number of factors that lead to the decline of hemp production.
1) It was always a pain in the ass to process, which included first retting, then breaking and scutching the stems to extract the fibre. In the American records, the slaves use to complain about this work, while in England it was considered undesirable and unprofitable work in the areas where the law decree that a percentage of land must be in the cultivation of hemp to support the maritime industry. Mechanised harvesting and processing was available in the USA between 1919 and 1950, but by then the industry had declined in size significantly, whilst the new synthetic textile industry was on the rise.
Lignin is a hard, woody biopolymer that makes up 8-10% of the dry weight of hemp fibre, and it is responsible for the rough, scratchy feel of traditional hemp fibre. If the lignin is removed, the resulting fibre is much smoother and softer. The historic inability to remove lignin from hemp without reducing its strength led to other crops being favoured over it.
Meanwhile, cotton was a relatively small crop in America, until they invented the cotton gin in 1793. This technology greatly reduced the labour needed to extract cotton fibre from the seeds, and it allowed cotton farming to become a profitable industry for several reasons.
Cotton has short fibres and can be spun into finer and softer textiles than the hemp of the era, which was of great interest to the textiles industry. Furthermore, spinning cotton was simpler than hemp, and a more easily scalable process, which was a financial incentive.
Another financial incentive in America until the American Civil War (1861-1865) was that slave labour was legal. The cotton gin technology had opened up a whole new resource to the British textile mills, and consequently the demand for slave labour in America increased greatly because harvesting the cotton by hand was a labour intensive process. After the American Civil War, Britain looked to it’s colonial territories for cheaper labour resources.
2) In 1813 the first sea going steam ship made a passage from Leeds to Yarmouth. This new technology spread rapidly and began a new era of trade globalisation, but also a steep decline in the demand for hemp for sails, cordage and rigging materials over the rest of the century. The scale of this demise should not be underestimated, as sailing ships required new sets of sails and rigging every few years.
This decline in sailing ships directly affected the long established hemp paper industry, which relied on pulp being made from recycled hemp clothes, sails and rigging from the navy, and merchant navy sailing vessels. In its place, paper manufacturers began to use wood pulp, following technological advancements in that industry sector in 1844.
3) Between 1920 and 1930 DuPont was developing petroleum synthetic textile science, inventing neoprene, polyester and nylon. In the 1950’s DuPont invented Mylar, Dacron, Orlon and Lycra, as well as Tyvec, Nomex, Qiana, Corfam, and Corian in the 1960’s.
Question 8: How is hemp fibre processed today?
Answer: Contemporary harvesting is mechanised of course, but the breakthrough for hemp textiles was in the mid-1980’s when researchers developed a new technique to remove the lignin through enzymatic and microbial action. The protein digesting enzyme protease is first applied to the hemp fibre, which reduces the nitrogen in the stems. Then a species of fungus known as Bjerkandera is allowed to grow upon the fibres, where it consumes the lignin. The fibres produced with this technique were far more versatile, and hemp began to be used in garment making once more.
Question 9: Why are we not seeing more hemp products on the market in the 21st century?
Answer: Because of a stigmatic name the United States of America adopted, which caused a historic anomaly in much of the western world from 1925 to the 1990’s, and even beyond.
Here is a short video on The History of hemp
Hemp was one of the first plants to be cultivated, ever. From the early 1600’s to the 1850’s it became the most widely grown commercial crop in the world, with great demand from the maritime industries for rope, sails and packaging etc.
After declining production in the 1800’s, Britain outlawed hemp in 1928 after the 1925 International Opium Convention.
The United States of America began using the word Marijuana in the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act as a generic, foreign-sounding name for hemp. Marijuana is a Mexican Spanish term for recreational cannabis use, possibly from Tijuana.
The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act lead to industrial hemp disappearing from the USA, as all strains of hemp were prevented from cultivation, and no sensible distinction was made between industrial, recreational, and medicinal cultivars and purposes.
Canada followed suit in 1938.
Australia followed suit in 1938, which is after 150 years of continuous commercial cultivation of hemp since the First Fleet of Caucasian colonisation in 1788. Joseph Banks had been the first seed supplier.
The USA had a brief but enthusiastic respite in cultivation during the Second World War, when hemp was able to help swing the victory towards the Allied campaign. At the same time the automotive industry was briefly open to new concepts. Check out Henry Ford's hemp plastic car from 1941.
In the 1990’s Britain, Canada and some Australian states began to revise their legislations to permit hemp cultivation.
In 2000 hemp seed became available to Americans for human consumption.
Since 2002 hemp fibre has been used to make composite panels for the automobile industry. Manufacturers include: Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda, Iveco, Lotus, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Saturn, Volkswagen and Volvo.
In 2008 the UK car manufacturer Lotus made an Eco Elise using hemp: https://www.compositesworld.com/articles/eco-elise-concept-lean-speedy-and-green
In 2017 South Australia was the last state in Australia to revise it’s hemp growing legislation. Cultivar trials began in the following months. Follow the progress with the Industrial Hemp Association of South Australia (IHASA).
In 2017 the Australian New Zeeland Food Standard was amended to permit the sale of low THC hemp seed foods for human consumption, because it is a health food.
Question 10: Why did Triodia Apparel choose industrial hemp as a resource for textiles?
Answer: There are numerous advantages and they are all important:
Hemp is not pesticide dependent, so it is a clean green resource, which provides us with a perfect opportunity to not use pesticide dependent and genetically modified species, or petroleum synthetic textiles.
Hemp does not deplete or degrade the soil, which is important because arable land is finite and precious, while consumer demand on natural resources is increasing exponentially with population expansion.
Hemp requires little water and fertiliser compared to other crops.
Hemp is a fast-renewable resource, with a high yield per hectare, and the percentage of the hemp plant that becomes fibre is higher than other natural fibres.
Hemp has a high tensile strength which means it makes strong durable fibre.
Hemp textiles offer high UV protection, which is handy because of ozone layer depletion.
Hemp textiles are breathable and excellent to wear.
Hemp textiles are biodegradable at the end of the product life cycle.
Check out this video on brands that are championing hemp as a sustainable resource for environmental solutions:
Question 11: What is organic cotton?
Answer: Organic cotton comes from plants that are not genetically modified, and they are grown organically, which means without the use of synthetic agricultural chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizer.
The organic cotton industry is growing at 50% per year due to consumer support for clean green products.
Here is a video on the pros and cons of different fibres for textiles:
Question 12: Can I smoke the hemp fabric?
Answer: Yes, yes you can, and you should video yourself doing it, and post it on YouTube.