As one of first plants to be spun into fiber some 10,000 years ago, hemp has a long and storied history as a manufacturing staple in much of the world—the U.S. is the only developed nation that still bans the growth of industrial hemp (because of the plant’s relation to cannabis), though 16 states have passed pro-hemp legislation in recent years.
Even as hemp continues to fight an uphill battle against unreasonably closed minds in Washington, it’s becoming increasingly popular in the construction of clothing as it grows incredibly rapidly and requires significantly less water than cotton to cultivate.
Building on this momentum Levi’s, famous for its cotton denim, has developed an innovative technology that “cottonizes” hemp fiber using very little energy and far less chemicals. The innovative process produces a sustainably made, recyclable fabric with a much smaller carbon footprint that’s still comfortable and durable like cotton, which can be seen first hand in the new fully-recyclable Wellthread collection, as part ongoing collaboration with Kelly Slater’s surf-inspired apparel brand Outerknown. It’s look-good, feel-good clothing.
Cottonized hemp is an innovative and sustainable fabric that solves the historical drawback of hemp—a rough fiber that’s traditionally closer in feel to linen than cotton—by weaving it like cotton into a 70/30 cotton to cottonized hemp blend. The result is a denim almost indistinguishable from cotton. The collection marks the first time the fabric is being introduced to consumers.
And if that wasn’t cool enough, the hemp used is rain fed, meaning it required zero water in irrigation during its lifecycle. It’s look-good, feel-good clothing.
The collection consists of include a single-fiber nylon board short ($88), a T-shirt made from recycled jeans ($40), an embroidered western shirt ($128), and a Trucker Jacket ($188) and 511 slim fit jean ($128) made from cottonized hemp. All of which fit nicely in canon of Outerknown products, a California-based brand long interested in producing sustainable clothing.
While the cottonized hemp Trucker Jacket steals the show with beautiful contrasting indigo embroidery, the board shorts make another headline worthy advancement in sustainability. Each pair is made from 100% recyclable nylon, meaning every single element is nylon and can be recycled in perpetuity, from eyelets and buttons to pockets and even thread, while also being stylish enough to be worn on the beach or about town.
And this doesn’t just stop at sustainability, with every piece being sewn in a facility that invests in worker well-being. It’s exciting to know that you can feel good about your clothes, and look good too.