Historia del cáñamo en la indústria de la moda (I) - hemp and love

History of hemp in the fashion industry (I)

Hemp in the fashion industry, a relationship with a lot of history

Ecological or sustainable fashion seems a matter of the s. XXI, as if humanity would necessarily have understood that the future of clothing goes through the introduction of much more respectful tissues with the environment. The reality, however, is that some of the textile fibers that listed on the rise in our days accumulate a long historical trajectory. It is the case of hemp, whose applications for the manufacture of tissues have been rated by the most diverse civilizations. It is not at all clear or when or when it starts exactly its exciting story but it does take with us a long time.

Of the ropes

Historical research and, more specifically, archaeological, have allowed to overcome the use of hemp fibers as raw material for the manufacture of other items almost up to its own appearance of the modern human being. Given the resistance and ductility of this material, it is believed that it could be used already in the middle paleolithic for the production of ropes. After the Neolithic Revolution and the appearance of the first great civilizations, these fibers gave the leap to the textile industry. In the lands of the historic Mesopotamia, remains dated around 8,000 A.C.

It should be noted that the Sumerians, belonging to the oldest stage of Mesopotamic Story, turned the hemp into a multi-purpose plant, using it as an incense in the temples, providing it for medicinal purposes and, of course, taking advantage of their kindness for textile confection . And we do not think that this sustainable product was only known in the next East. China, one of the oldest current states, also knew how to see the possibilities of these fibers for fashion. All in all, perhaps its origin has to look for it in India, being then transported by the Aryans to Europe.

Medieval parenthesis and jump to the new world

The Grecolatin culture was equally served as these natural fibers although its use was becoming less frequent. To the fall of the Roman Empire of the West and the appearance of the Germanic kingdoms that would give way to the first netly European states, a replacement of hemp is observed by other products, such as flax. This did not mean, much less, his disappearance. In the Iberian Peninsula, for example, the territories dominated by Islam maintained their crop and even perfected their manufacture, with modern workshops equipped with spinning mills. 

However, this raw material always aroused the church suspicion, which associated its use with practices close to witchcraft or to pagan rites to extinguish. Thus, in 1484 the bull was published Refactibus dissidens summis., with which Innocent VIII intended to place these activities. It is no longer curious - and eloquent - that just eight years after that strict prohibition will be charged plants of this type in the first European ships that tied in America. 

Cristobal Colon Girl Pinta Santa Maria

The ships of Columbus, the carabelas Santa María, the girl and pint. Represented by this unannounced wood engraving. Photo By: Bettman Corbis. 

The arrival of hemp to the American continent within the framework of the first expedition of Cristóbal Colón was justified for survival reasons, since, not knowing what could be found in America, these fibers would make it easy to manufacture items of first necessity. Its use extended quickly throughout the continent, being used by British colonies. At any given time, a situation of commercial rivalry between American producers and Russians, who allegedly got a product of higher quality.


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.