THE HISTORY OF HEMP
Hemp is a part of our cultural and historical heritage, as humans have used it for over 8,000 years. It was the first plant used by humankind for fabric, medicine, construction and paper.
Hemp was used in important human achievements: the 1st printed book, the oils and canvases used by masters such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh and others, the flags, sails and rigging for long-distance boats, the Declaration of Independence and the American constitution. The first denim jeans were made with hemp.
France was a large producer of hemp, whileMarseilles with its historic Canebière high street was one of the biggest traders of hemp in the world.
In 1941, Henry Ford, the genius of the car industry, introduced the 1st car fuelled by hemp ethanol, built with panels of composite materials made with hemp.
Henry Ford campaigned for intensive use of hemp: "Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?""
In every culture and until the beginning of the 20th century, hemp was chosen to create the most beautiful fabrics.
However, hemp fell victim to the chemical industry lobby in the 30s and it was banned from the USA in 1937. In 1942, it came back in force to clothe and arm the US army joining the war. As soon as the war was over, the lobbies clamped down again, in favour of synthetic textiles and cotton, as well as wood pulp from forests to make paper.
Today, different countries are slowlyrediscovering all the properties of hemp, its applications and the benefits it offers us, especially in the fields of medicine, textiles and eco-friendly construction. Over 10,000 hectares of hemp are now grown in France, and the climate suits it well.
A FANTASTIC PLANT
The most sustainable material in the world
Hemp cultivation is spectacular because in 4 months, the plant reaches a height of 2.5-4 metres depending on the species, with no need for other inputs, pesticides or herbicides.
Hemp is the best known biomass plant to date. It cleans and revitalises the soil and it can absorb up to 15 tonnes of CO2 per hectare.
The whole plant can be used, from the seeds, to the wood-like core, to the fibres themselves. The uses of hemp are endless: paper (hemp contains 77% cellulose compared to 60% in trees), fabrics, building products, oil, human and animal food, straw for horses and animals, sanitary products, technical products such as varnish and paint, fuel (ethanol), composite materials and many others which remain undiscovered.
An incomparable fabric
In the textile industry, the use of hemp declined in the 20th century because of competition from cotton, which is cheaper to produce but catastrophic for the environment, and because of petro-chemistry and its synthetic textiles.
Today, we are rediscovering the exceptional properties of this fibre that produces fabric with unrivalled qualities: it is comfortable, soft, breathable, anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-allergenic, UV resistant (protecting against up to 95% of UV rays), and heat and light resistant. The hollow fibre lets in air, allowing it to breath. This is why a hemp bed is never cold in winter or hot in summer and improves sleep quality.
Due to its notable length, hemp fibre produces textiles that are always very thick and soft, and tend not to crease.
It is also the length of the fibre that makes it so exceptionally resistant, producing fabrics that stand the test of time. Hemp fabrics are extremely strong and were used in our grandmothers' trousseaux which were handed down from generation to generation.
The hollow fibre of the hemp plant absorbs and releases water vapour like wood plants. The plant also stores and restores heat in a way that improves the thermal performance of the textiles. The absorbing ability means that it is light to the touch and gives a feeling of well-being, reinforced by the natural relaxing qualities of hemp.
COULEUR CHANVRE FABRICS
At Couleur Chanvre, our aim is to preserve the qualities of hemp fibre while adding finesse and making it easy to maintain in the present day.
Our fabrics use the longest, softest hemp fibres of the highest quality.
Hemp is difficult to work with because of its length and durability. Other producers have chosen to weaken the fibre by dipping it into acid baths so that it can then be worked mechanically and at a forced pace, consequently lowering cost prices. For us this is an aberration that completely ruins all of this plant's amazing qualities. As for us, we have chosen another path, which is more difficult and more costly.
We use artisanal production methods that are better adapted to working with this incredible fibre. Many stages are carried out by hand, by passionate people committed to making our products with love and maintaining all of the benefits of hemp.
Couleur Chanvre products are made from French hemp, woven on old looms in the north of France. Production is carried out in the north or in the south-west depending on the type of product.
Dyeing takes place at our St Jean de Luz site, which allows us to control a critical stage in the eco-friendly nature of the fabric. All the dyes we use are GOTS 3 certified. This certification for textile products is the most comprehensive for eco-friendly production, bringing together organic processes, protection of the environment, and social responsibility.
The finishing is done mechanically. There is therefore no risk of pollutant or toxic products appearing in the finished product, guaranteeing perfectly safe contact with the skin and the absence of allergies or problems caused by fabrics.
We have also invested in equipment using the latest technology, allowing us to limit our water and energy consumption. Our dyeing process consumes five times less energy and water than conventional dyeing methods.
The eco-friendly nature of our dyes does not however make them weaker. Once coloured, our products are perfectly adapted to modern life and they can be washed and rewashed without affecting the colour, even at high temperatures. Ironing is not necessary.
Our 100% French production guarantees quality. The simplicity of our products blends perfectly with our palette of stylish colours inspired by nature.
Our products embody timeless style, elegant simplicity, well-being and long-lasting quality.