Friday 20 April 2012


For the herb-smoking population, the 20th of April is a day for celebrating and an excuse for a little over-indulgance. It's like Easter for stoners. The history of why that happened is a fascinating tale all by itself. Check that out here.

But I'm choosing to celebrate another aspect of the plant today - one that's a bit more relevant to the ethical fashion industry. Let's talk about hemp, baby.

Hemp clothing has been around for a long time, and it's always had a reputation for being a bit hairy and rough - much like the people that choose to wear them. But that's starting to change. Hemp, along with other natural fibres from plants like jute, flax and even stinging nettle, are part of a group known as bast fibres. And these are becoming more and more exciting as economic and sustainable alternatives to cotton.

Cotton is something of a poisoned chalice for the green fashion scene. It's expensive to grow, depends on heavy use of pesticides, and stops the soil it's grown in of nutrients. It's still seen as the only naturally-growing fibre. That's not the case, and as it becomes more of a burden the search is on for viable alternatives. Bast fibres might just do the trick.

Hemp can be grown without pesticides, on smaller plots and, unlike cotton, can be cultivated in the UK. New developments have seen the appearance of hybrid fabrics made from hemp and wool blends that answer the demand for cheaper, greener, locally grown product.

Ethical and sustainable fashion, as far as I can tell, is about taking new approaches to old solutions. Hemp, one of our oldest fibres is long overdue for a revival. I think today is an appropriate date to celebrate it. Let's raise a glass to hemp - or whatever else sparks your fancy.

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