Our Exceptional Materials
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. However, hemp fell victim to the chemical industry lobby in the 30s and it was banned from the USA in 1937. It was then banned in the rest of the world in the years that followed. Today, different countries are gradually rediscovering all of hemp’s properties, all its applications et the advantages it could bring. 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. In our opinion, hemp is the model plant for durable development.
If hemp cultivation is rapidly expanding, it is often for food, building, pharmaceutical products or paper. Hemp textiles remain very rare, because harvesting it is difficult, particularly due to the height of the plant and its stem’s rigidity. Lots of the stages have to be done by hand, which is very difficult and expensive in our country. In fact, it really is a production process which needs to be reinvented, hemp varieties to be selected to get the best fibres and specific machines and techniques to be adapted for cutting, putting into windrows, harvesting and defibring.
We have been lucky enough over the years to work which a French hemp stock which was specifically produced for a big Italian fashion designer.
At the same time, we have been actively working in close collaboration with farmers and cooperatives for more than seven years towards the renaissance of a French hemp textile sector. In 2013, The Organic Linen and Hemp Association was created, which we are subscribed to. The progress of this sector is happening, but the quantity produced remains insufficient for our brand’s needs. This is why, in recent times, we have had to source hemp fibres from other countries in Eastern Europe and Asia. Wherever it is produced, hemp is a plant that doesn’t need inputs or chemical products to grow healthily, so the hemp fibres obtained from defibration are perfectly healthy. We extract the fibres at this stage and can therefore be sure that they have not been tainted by inappropriate chemical treatments. Afterwards, this hemp goes into the Couleur Chanvre production circuit, where it is woven, tailored, dyed and finished in France.
Hemp fibre is difficult to work with, because of its irregularity and solidity, which is why we use artisanal manufacturing methods, which are better adapted to working with this magnificent fabric. Many stages are carried out by hand, by passionate people who are committed to making our products with love and to conserving all of hemp’s benefits.
We use hemp for bedding, as well as in the form of hemp cloth for tagelmusts, shawls and curtains.
Linen naturally offers freshness and is thin, comfortable, regulates temperature and quickly absorbs humidity or perspiration. It is ideal for contact with skin because it is hypoallergenic. It is also a long-lasting fibre which, with time, remains as beautiful and as smooth as ever.
We use several grammages of linen: an elegant, thin linen used for bedclothes, a thicker linen for table linen which hangs beautifully and finally heavier grammages for curtains, cushions and other decorative articles.
Cotton is the most used natural fibre in the world. Its cultivation dates back several millennia and was first developed in South America, India and Africa. Today, the United States, China and India are the biggest producers of cotton, which is nicknamed “white gold” thanks to its economic importance.
Cotton plants grow in tropical and sub-tropical zones. In the wild, they can reach 10 metres, but when cultivated, they are not allowed to exceed 1 metre, which makes gathering easier. When they are in bloom, they have big flowers with five petals. The cotton fruit is a rigid capsule containing grains. Cotton fibres, made of almost pure cellulose, come out of this capsule. They can be divided into two categories, big fibres which are used to make the best yarn, “long brin” and shorter hairs.
Nonetheless, cotton cultivation presents problems. In its conventional cultivation, it needs a lot of water, almost half of the plantations are irrigated - in very hot countries. It is a very fragile plant and to intensively cultivate it requires a large quantity of inputs and pesticides. We estimate that 25% of global pesticides are used in cotton cultivation, even though it only represents 2% of cultivated lands!
It is therefore crucial that we shift towards organic cotton which uses natural fertilisers and inputs, as well as traditional methods of irrigation. Naturally, we have made this choice at Couleur Chanvre.
Once it has been harvested, the cotton is dried, then stripped of its impurities and carded, this stage consists of paralleling the fibres in order to produce a ribbon which is then sent to be spun.
The quality of a cotton depends on its fibres, their delicacy, colour and purity.
We use organic cotton for bed linen in particular.
Whether it is hemp, linen or cotton, all our Couleur Chanvre linen is of the same quality and follows the same production processes. The weaving, tailoring, dyeing and finishing is all done in France, these last stages are conducted in our St Jean de Luz workshop, according to a unique process which excludes all toxic, irritant and allergenic products.