The History of Hemp Clothing

The History of Hemp Clothing

Hemp clothing has been used by humans for thousands of years, with evidence of its use dating back to ancient China and Egypt. Hemp fabric is made from the fibers of the hemp plant, which is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant.

Not to be confused with its cousin, hemp that's grown for clothing is planted and processed entirely differently. Where cannabis plants are grown to be short and sprout flowers, hemp is grown for its stems - the taller, the better.

Hemp clothing has a long and interesting history, and it's inextricably tied with human development. It's been an extremely important fabric for humans throughout the years. 

hemp paper

In ancient times, hemp clothing was used primarily for its durability and strength. It was used to make rope, sails, and even paper. It was also used to make clothing for working-class people, as it was affordable and long-lasting. Hemp clothing was particularly popular in regions where cotton was not readily available, such as Europe and Asia.

During the Middle Ages, hemp clothing became more widespread, particularly in Europe. It was used to make a variety of clothing items, including shirts, pants, and shoes. Hemp clothing was particularly popular among sailors, as it was resistant to salt water and could withstand harsh weather conditions.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, hemp clothing became less common as cotton became more readily available. But still, the first Levi jeans were made from hemp. Up until the 1920's, over 80% of clothing in the US was made from hemp fabric. 

Hemp was the most used crop in the US until the 1930's, when Harry Anslinger, U.S. Representative to the United Nations Narcotics Commission, used racist messaging to try to make the plant illegal. This garnered the support of the timber, cotton, petrochemicals industry, who all lobbied to abolish the plant. They knew their products didn't stand a chance against hemp. 

Even though the "anti marijuana" laws were passed, the hemp plant experienced a resurgence during the Second World War, when the United States government encouraged the production of hemp for use in the war effort.

Hemp was used to make uniforms, canvas, parachutes, and other military supplies. The US government used the slogan "hemp for victory" to encourage the use of hemp. But by 1945, the plant was banned again. 

hemp for victory slogan

Today, hemp clothing is becoming increasingly popular once again, particularly among those who are interested in sustainable fashion. Hemp is a highly sustainable crop, as it requires little water, no pesticides, and can be grown in a variety of different climates. It also cleans soil as it grows and absorbs carbon faster than trees. 

Hemp fabric is also very durable, and can last for years without showing signs of wear and tear.

The entire plant can be used for many different applications, including animal bedding, garden mulch, construction (hempcrete), seeds, and oil.

hemp field

Unfortunately, the hemp industry lost out on decades of possible research and improvements to technology, so the plant is quite expensive to produce today. But it's a truly incredible plant for our planet and our bodies. 

There are a variety of different types of hemp clothing available today, including shirts, pants, dresses, and underwear. At Magi, we make sustainable thongs, briefs, and bralettes from a blend of hemp and organic cotton. Many designers are now incorporating hemp into their collections, as they recognize the benefits of this versatile and sustainable material.

Hemp clothing has a long and interesting history, and has been used for a variety of purposes over the years. From its use in ancient China and Egypt to its popularity among sailors in the Middle Ages, to its resurgence during the Second World War, hemp clothing has played an important role in human history. Today, as we become more concerned about sustainability and the impact of our actions on the environment, hemp clothing is once again becoming a popular choice for those who are interested in ethical and sustainable fashion.

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