Hemp is an ancient textile fibre that we have been weaving into clothes for as many as 10,000 years – but Hempcell is an innovation that is bringing this useful, durable fibre into the 21st century. Developed by the team at kind of blau, Hempcell is a plant-based fibre that can be turned into circular fabric that decomposes easily, uses minimal water, and looks and feels more comfortable and stylish than some traditional hemp-based materials.
Hempcell is named after its combination of hemp – part of the cannabis family, with fibres that can be stronger than steel – and lyocell – a process used to soften rather stiff fibers, such as pulp and now hemp. Durable and beautiful, Hempcell fabric is grown from plants that are not genetically modified, and require no chemicals or synthetic fertilisers.
Most importantly, it makes use of natural resources in Europe, instead of exploiting those found in regions that are already being damaged by the fast fashion industry. kind of blau’s co-founder Amira Jehia explains that Hempcell “has the potential to create jobs and inner-European partnerships without causing any harm to nature nor health – including faraway regions and communities. We believe that sustainable fashion cannot come at the expense of global exploitation and codependency.”
As with all kind of blau products, Hempcell is made with a ‘Water First Approach’. This means stating exactly how much water went into making a garment (rather than vague claims about water savings), and creating clothes designed to last forever. They also pay reparations to countries adversely affected by the textile industry through their NGO Drip by Drip: the world’s first NGO committed to tackling water issues in the fashion and textile industry.
“Fashion is important,” Amira adds, “but we believe that water and soil are more important, in the light of desertification in some places and rising sea levels in others. There are options and innovations out there, they just need to scale – and the big corporations need to make use of them. That way, unit costs can drop, quality and output can increase and fashion can become greener and healthier for all.’
AtlasAction: Check the origin of your garment’s raw materials and learn more about its individual water footprint to make a more water-conscious choice in the future, and support Drip by Drip.
Amira Jehia & Ali Azimi
Hempcell are finalists in 2020’s European Social Innovation Competition, which is organised by the European Commission, with the support of a consortium of organisations. The consortium is led by Nesta Challenges and includes Kennisland, Ashoka Spain, the European Network of Living Labs, and Scholz & Friends. ‘Reimagine Fashion: Changing behaviours for sustainable fashion’ calls on applicants to find new, creative ways to reduce the overall environmental footprint and improve the societal impact of the fashion market, so that we can bring the joy back into fashion, without the harm.