When it comes to textiles in the vein of regeneration and sustainability there’s no word thrown around quite as often than hemp. It’s one of the most talked about sustainable alternatives - with good reason - having been pegged as the plant with the power to revolutionise the clothing industry. In our humble opinion, hemp is the future of fabric.
Hemp fabric by our supplier Hemporium.
And with the launch of our spunky hemp dungarees and cropped tees, we thought we’d take a deep-dive into just what this wonder-plant is all about.
So why choose hemp?
One of the foundations of GLOW as a brand is sustainability. We’re constantly taking into consideration renewable alternatives and ethical fashion choices. With a desire to expand beyond our athleisure original range, we turned to hemp.
Now, hemp has actually been used to make clothing for centuries. It’s considered by some scientists to be the oldest cultivated plant in the world - with scraps of hemp fabric found dating as far back as 8,000 B.C - and it’s the plant’s particular fibrous quality that really makes it a game changer in so many industries.
Hemp textile fibers are longer than cotton so they are far more durable. It wears in not out - sort of like leather or denim, it softens and moulds to the body with time. The longer fibers also make the textile breathable and anti-microbial, maintaining your body temperature and keeping those pits fresh!
From an environmental perspective, hemp has become a lauded resource fast. Since it’s an annual crop, it’s fast-growing, relatively low-maintenance, with a quick turnover and a high yield of usable material, making it one of the most renewable textile resources in the world - as opposed to cotton which, while a beautiful textile, is a water-heavy crop, whose fibers are more prone to wear over time. To throw in another environmental bone, a single hemp plant also sequesters more carbon than your average tree in its short lifetime.
But the next question is: how sustainable is it really?
It’s all good and well to reel out lists of benefits, but the grand scheme of things always needs to be considered. Firstly, from a South African context, due to restrictive laws and regulations here, there is no legal hemp industry established in the country. All the hemp textile used and distributed in South Africa is imported, which racks up the carbon cost and import taxes. There are groups rallying for the legalisation of the hemp industry here though, so fingers crossed that it’s only a matter of time.
Secondly, know your suppliers. While hemp is arguably one of the best renewable resources we have on hand, as with anything it’s imperative to track your sources. Monocropping, pesticide-heavy or illegal cultivation are all red flags when tracking your sources. You’re going to want to find a supplier with a transparent supply chain to keep your own supply chain legitimate.
We’ve taken all this and more into consideration when launching this new facet of GLOW. Our hemp textile is supplied through South Africa’s leading hemp clothing brand Hemporium, who’s textile is sourced from a small, artisanal factory in China. Taking this step is our way of investing in the future of South African textile - a push to educate people around the process of making good quality clothing in a changing climate.
We have some deights in the works for the near future - including hemp-lycra leggings, and co-branded crop-tops with Hemporium - but for now our dungarees and cropped tees are here for your indulgement! Clothing made to work, this new range sits on the wall of fitness and fashion: functional clothing that lasts and goes the extra mile - just like we do! And you’re making the sustainable choice when you put them on every morning!
Celine in our organic hemp dungaree and our organic hemp crop tee, shot by Kersti Lee de Beer.