Saying hemp has many uses is an understatement. Said to have thousands of applications, hemp is incredibly versatile, and it works as an alternative in numerous industries. From nutrition and textiles to bioplastics and construction, there isn’t much hemp can’t do. On top of that, the plant produces cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical that’s been found to have a plethora of medical applications.
One of hemp’s most interesting applications is in the textile industry. Even though most of the focus right now is on hemp-derived CBD, hemp lends itself pretty well to the textile sector, as evidenced by the numerous hemp-based products such as bags and pants.
Naveena, a denim mill in Karachi, Pakistan is looking to go even further with hemp fiber. Although cotton has held the position as the de-facto fabric for years, the impact it has on the environment is massive. According to the mill, hemp doesn’t use pesticides, and it requires 70% less water than cotton. On top of that, hemp takes a relatively short time to mature, and its production per acre can be twice as large as cotton production.
At the moment, Naveena is in its first season of making hemp denim. The denim mill is experimenting with different hemp blends, by mixing the hemp fiber with Tencel and Reprieve recycled polyester, and according to Executive Director Rashid Iqbal, this will offer brands a variety of ways to use the fiber in their collections.
For instance, he says, a weft made from hemp fibers gives denim an authentic and imperfect character, while a Tencel wrap gives it the hand consumers expect from contemporary denim.
Currently, the biggest obstacle preventing hemp from becoming more popular as a fabric is its texture. Hemp fiber is scratchy and coarse, and it doesn’t lend itself well to markets that prefer softer, comfortable fabrics.
Popular denim retailer Levi’s has found a way to counter this. Last year, the firm debuted a cottonized hemp fiber in collaboration with Outerknown, a clothing brand that uses organic, recycled or regeneration materials. Using very little energy, Levi’s found a way to soften hemp until it’s almost indistinguishable from cotton.
The firm uses a blend of 70% hemp and 30% cotton made by Candiani Denim Global to make a denim fabric that looks and feels just like hemp.
“This blend, coupled with Levi’s waterless practices and laser finishing, serves as an example of how mainstreaming of hemp denim relies on all pieces of the supply chain coming together,” says Candiani Denim Global’s Marketing Director Simon Guiliani.
This diversification of the ways in which hemp can be used today is likely to be highly appreciated by sector players like MCTC Holdings Inc. (OTC: MCTC) who would like to see farmers having a variety of potential markets for their hemp crops.
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