We love our eco-friendly hemp apparel and accessories, but finding the best way to integrate hemp into textiles isn’t cut and dried—it required lots of research, travel across the globe and some trial and error.
Chiefton’s decision to go with a mix of 55 percent hemp, 45 percent organic cotton for our T-shirts was not made randomly. Through rigorous research and development, we tested out five different hemp blends, and we found that the 55-45 hemp blend is by far the most comfortable, because hemp tends to be a bit scratchy and stiff. The nice thing about hemp is, the more you wash it, the softer it gets. And it doesn’t wear out as quickly as cotton or synthetics.
But beyond the fabric functionality, what makes a certain T-shirt the go-to option in your closet? It needs to fit your body right and look good on you. That’s why we customized the design for our hemp T-shirts with a modernized, longer cut for utility and comfort.
Chiefton’s hemp is more than just the shirt on your back, it’s what’s on your head.
We also wanted to bring a natural, eco-friendly blend to headwear that got away from synthetic fibers. For our flat-brims, we go with an 80 percent hemp, 20 percent cotton blend. We put a softer cotton brim on the inside, since it’s the only part to touch your head. But the stiff nature of hemp is perfect for a hat that has to hold up to the elements.
Our hats feel like any other headwear, but we want people to know that they are enjoying hemp in their conscientious clothing choices. Every hat has a shiny sticker on it that declares, “Hi, I’m made from hemp.” Inside is a woven label that says the same thing. Nothing like a little positive affirmation, every time you put it on.
I traveled far to find the best source for cultivated hemp because I wanted to know how it would be grown, processed and manufactured into textiles. And when I landed in “hemp superpower” China, I learned that our international partner grows the crop organically on the same land that holds the plant processing and textile manufacturing buildings.
So they process, cut and sew the clothes all on the same property, which I loved.
When I did a walkthrough of the field and the factory in the Shangdong province, I was struck by how progressive their setup is. What’s unique is they do completely customized cut-and-sew pieces from the fabrics they create. We send over our designs, and they can build samples right from what we send them.
We would love to create a setup like that here in Colorado, with a factory that’s next to a hemp field, with the ability to produce textiles, handbags and even good ol’ rope. But currently the price is extremely high in the United States. I searched high and low: online research, inquiries to experts in the hemp textiles industry and beyond—and the only place that currently grows organic hemp at a reasonable price is in China.
As I recently told The Guardian, it would be ideal to have a domestic option to produce our hemp apparel “from seed to seam.” But until that happens, we work with the current infrastructure and appreciate our Chinese partnership.
We don’t want our T-shirts to cost $80—they’re not a status symbol, they’re a celebration of cannabis and quality design. We want anyone who chooses Chiefton to be able to wear our gear and feel good about helping sustain our planet by choosing hemp.
By Bryan Dehaven