Fashion is a notoriously thirsty industry.
According to the 2017 Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report, the global fashion industry consumed 79 billion cubic meters of water in 2015 – enough to fill nearly 32 million Olympic-size
swimming pools. This usage is expected to increase 50% by 2030. But, by more carefully considering the choice of materials, as well as dyeing and finishing processes, the fashion industry can drastically reduce its impact on the world’s water.
When it comes to choosing more responsible materials, one fiber that deserves much more love and recognition is hemp.
That’s right. Derived from the cannabis plant, hemp has a bit of a hippie reputation, but it is a wonderful sustainable fiber (and also lacks the psychoactive component, anyway). It grows densely and therefore requires very little land to cultivate. And, most importantly, hemp uses far less water than other fibers. For example, hemp uses, on average, 50% less water than cotton. Hemp can also be turned into fabric without the use of any chemicals. It is also biodegradable.
When Arraei Collective got in touch with me to try out one of their hemp pieces, I was both intrigued and a little…concerned. Would I be able to pull off wearing hemp, and show that you can wear hardcore sustainable fabrics without looking like a hippie? These concerns stemmed from the fact that I am keenly aware that us ethical fashion folks need to demonstrate how natural and sustainable fabrics can be worn in ways that have wide appeal. One of the most frequent comments I receive from my blog and Instagram followers is the belief that ethical fashion isn’t approachable because of its very defined aesthetic – most notably a lack of balance in the outfits, contributing to an all-over baggy look.
My concerns were dashed with one look at Arraei Collective’s website. Their hemp pieces come in classic silhouettes and, as founder Natalie Florence explains, “harmonize humanity and the planet.” These garments strike a balance between widespread wearability and the ethical fashion aesthetic, using natural hemp, denim hemp, hemp canvas, hemp silk and linen.
While I was initially drawn to the Cai Cami, the TWA trench won out. It is October in New England, after all. I also selected the beige lining instead of the print lining, for a streamlined, minimal look.
To (hopefully) show how hemp can be part of a chic, classic and minimal wardrobe, I’ve put together three looks with this trench, which I think balance the ethical fashion vibe that many of you come here for with a bit more attention paid to trend-consciousness, for those of you who are worried that ethical style may not be for you. The looks also use a lot of the same accessories. Each outfit is different enough, but I also wanted to use this opportunity to give a peek into my fall wardrobe and what gets a lot of wear in my closet. I hope you like it.
Look #1: Feeling Neutral
Arraei Collective TWA Trench // St. Agni Studio Knit Tee // Madewell 10-inch Button Fly Jeans // Rag and Bone Boots (secondhand, similar here) // Equal Uprise Hat // Windblown Jewelry Horizon Necklace // Berg & Betts Watch // Cuyana Small Carryall Tote
Look #2: Welcoming Autumn
Arraei Collective TWA Trench // Twofold Clothing Krissy Tee in Wool // Madewell High Rise Jeans // ABLE Perez Ankle Boot // Equal Uprise Hat // Windblown Jewelry Horizon Necklace // Berg & Betts Watch // Cuyana Small Carryall Tote
Look #3: Gallery Evening
Arraei Collective TWA Trench // Elizabeth Suzann Harper Tunic // Lou & Grey Leggings (old, similar + ethical here) // ABLE Perez Ankle Boot // Equal Uprise Hat // Soko Door Knocker Earrings// Cuyana Small Carryall Tote
I really love how versatile this trench is, and that I can wear it with casual or more dressy outfits. While I was originally thinking that a hemp trench could only be worn casually, I was excited to see how it added an avant-garde touch to my gallery night outfit. It also buttons closed and comes with a detachable belt, which as you can see I didn’t wear this time around. It hasn’t been quite cool enough to be fully wrapped up in a jacket – I’ve just needed a bit of coverage when it’s chilly or raining. And when you are wrapped in this jacket, it keeps you warm. Turns out hemp is incredibly cozy. The weight is also lovely; this trench feels substantial while still having a nice drape.
So, tell me – have you worn hemp clothing? If not, have I successfully convinced you that it’s worth checking out? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Hemp Hemp, Hooray!
P.S. – You might notice my site looks a little different. I tried to simplify + streamline the design for easier navigation. I’ve also added a “Shop Wholeheartedly” page to highlight some of my favorite ethical and slow fashion items, or the ones I am frequently asked about in my posts. Hope you like it.