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Hemp On The Fashion Runway

We are encouraged that designers are taking note of the growth of public interest in hemp and hemp-blend fabrics.

By Lillian Taylor

Hemp is making forays into the highest tiers of the top-end runways. This summer’s fashion industry events were peppered with designs incorporating hemp.

Let’s start at the Berlin Fashion Week for Spring 2015 where Rosie Assoulin’s ready to wear line featured a tiered skirt made of hemp and raffia.

Jaclyn Hodes’s Awaveawake collection included some very interesting hemp corsets.

Rosie’s design is more accessible and reminiscent of the ART of SHADE line by Kayce Armstrong. The eco-couture designer who is slated to open in a new location in Ft. Lauderdale, complete with a full runway in a 3500 sq. ft. showroom/ retail space that will feature an art gallery and live music. Kayce occasionally splatters a bit of hemp or hemp-silk in her designs.

We are very excited about Steven Shoosty’s intended foray into fashion. Shoosty is a fine artist whose South Florida gallery is available by invitation only and features paintings that betray his brilliant mind.

He is now exploring wearable art, utilizing hemp-silk to serve as a canvas and incorporate into one-off couture coats. We cannot wait to show you finished products in future issues of Freedom Leaf.

H&M has announced a Spring 2015 campaign to expand collaboration of the eco-lines Conscious and Conscious Exclusive, including hemp and «conscious» cotton (organic, recycled, and grown with low volume pesticides and water usage).

The Big Eco-shift

As we go to press, Women’s Wear Daily’s Global Sourcing and Global Markets Forum will have just taken place (October 9, 2014) with a segment dedicated to social responsibility and sustainability.

Upcoming this fall is the Apparel Sourcing show in Paris, a top event, with exhibitors increasing a whopping 46 percent.
We are seeing many big names in the fashion industry adopt corporate social responsibility platforms and hire social responsibility officers. Their new focus on ethical sourcing and environmental responsibility seems to have more to do with labor costs and safety (great) while utilizing recycled plastic and organic cotton (also great).

Case in point, Pharrel Williams’ new line, G-STAR RAW FOR THE OCEANS, of denim made of recycled ocean plastic from his «Bionic Yarn» fabric company. Pharrel’s vision is noble, admirable, necessary, but even Pharrel admits «We’re not a solution … We are a sustainable company. Sustainability is not a solution, it’s a dam. The real solution is finding materials that don’t cause problems that plastic causes.»

Ahem: Say hello to hemp! Not hiding. Its been here a long while.

However, surveying the market of the devotees to using hemp fabrics, it becomes apparent that the industry is behind the curve of fabric development, perhaps a result of growth prohibitions. Hemp is supplied from Romanian and Canada. But some newly legal fields are finally being homegrown in Kentucky.

At present, however, it is not uncommon to find hemp fabrics with performance so sub-standard that one wash destroys the shape, and sewn goods tend to disintegrate quickly. These issues exist even in the premium lines where quality is thought to be presumed Those making true quality hemp products are producing plenty of off-the-shelf t-shirts and such for everyday wear.

Fashion industry professionals could attend DG Expo shows, held in Miami, New York, and San Francisco. This would be a good first step for those looking for mills and converters with low minimums, willing to explore with hemp yarns.

We are encouraged that designers are taking note of the growth of public interest in hemp and hemp-blend fabrics. Soon specially-developed fabrics and embellishments will take on even more beautiful and hopefully more durable forms in haute couture.

Read the full article with a spectacular photo set in print or the Freedom Leaf Ezine.