What is Hemp Linen? Everything You Need to Know

Hemp linen has been used for centuries in many households around the world and it has never stopped to be relevant to this day.

In fact, due to the incredible strength and durability, this fabric was popular among the upper class as much as among the working class since it has been discovered.

But what is hemp linen exactly and why do people love it?

Hemp linen is a sustainable textile made from hemp fibres - a crop from the cannabis sativa plant family.

Hemp is amazingly eco-friendly to grow and has a very small environmental impact as it is naturally pest-resistant and produced pesticide-free, making it an ideal fabric for slow fashion lovers!

Just like Son de Flor linen, hemp gets softer with time and is absolutely perfect for both, everyday use and special occasions.

History of Hemp Linen

Hemp history started in Ancient China. An Ancient Chinese mythology legend from around 2,800 BC tells us about the magical creation of hemp linen when Shen Nong, a mythical Chinese emperor who is believed to have invented agriculture and taught it to Chinese people, showed his people how to cultivate hemp.

Since the plant was easy to grow, strong and abundant in his kingdom, Shen Nong decided to find a way to weave it to make clothing, and hemp fabric was born.

According to the legend, thanks to Emperor Shen Nong, all the following Ancient Chinese dynasties mastered the use of hemp, not only in clothing but in various other domains. However, it is only around 800 BC that hemp linen started to spread in the West – thanks to merchants coming from Asia via the Silk Road.

When hemp fabric reached Europe, it was quickly integrated into the lifestyle of people and hemp was used in more ways than making clothing. It was also an essential ingredient in medicines and food as well as in the navy to produce sails for boats or rope.

Moreover, hemp was also a very appreciated building material in early Europe. And just like that, hemp quickly became a very important material.

In fact, the fabric spread so fast that in the XVIIIth century, it is estimated that around 80% of the world’s population was wearing hemp clothing on a daily basis.

Is Hemp Linen Expensive?

Hemp linen is a little bit more expensive than linen or cotton.

The main reason for  that is the exclusivity of hemp production. For instance, every year, 25.5 million tons of cotton and more than 150 000 tons of linen are produced, while only 70 000 tons of hemp is made.

Since the growth of hemp is more limited than other popular plants, it automatically becomes more expensive.

However, the yearly production of hemp is growing steadily since the rise of awareness of the environmental crisis and the regain of interest in slow fashion! In the next few years it is expected  to see the price of hemp fabric slowly decrease.

It is important to mention that help linen suffers from a bad reputation as it is still being mistaken for cannabis and associated with psychoactive drug.

Even though  the leaves of these two plants are similar, they are not the same plants at all. Nevertheless, these last years, we have seen a regain of interest in hemp, especially in the cosmetic and fashion industries.

Many people started to understand this plant had amazing qualities and differentiate it from its plant sibling.

The stigma around hemp is disappearing and the world has discovered the amazingness and magic of this fabric.

Are Hemp and Linen the Same Thing?

Linen and hemp are not the same as they come from different plants. But both of them are completely natural, organic and sustainable materials.

Linen fabrics are made from a flax plant, a lovely little plant with blue flowers, which is very easy to grow. In fact, it is one of the easiest plants to sow in your garden.

Hemp fabric, on the other hand, is made with a crop, cannabis sativa plant family. It is not cannabis as we know it, even if the leaves of the plant might look like it. 

This plant is also very easy to grow and most of the time only requires water from rain, which makes it an ideal alternative for conscious fashion lovers.

Apart from that, hemp and linen share many similarities and thus are easily interchangeable. Both of the fabrics have incredible qualities and they are both eco-friendly and sustainable. 

Is Hemp Better Than Linen?

Hemp is interchangeable with our beloved linen since both of these fabrics have so many wonderful properties and amazing things in common.

By seeing linen fabric side by side with hemp fabric, you would not be able to differentiate them – the only way to do so is by using a microscope.

In fact, the main difference between these fabrics is the length of the natural fibre they are made with: hemp fibres are longer than linen, this is precisely why hemp can happen to be even stronger than linen, which has an incredible durability that can last for decades!

Same as linen, hemp fabric is also extremely resistant to rotting, mildew, mould and salted water. It protects your skin against UV light and the fabric will never fade or disintegrate in the sunlight meaning you should not be afraid to leave your hemp items in the hot sun to air-dry during spring and summer as the risk to lose colour or weaken is very small.

So, can we say hemp is better than linen? The two fabrics are extremely similar and in most cases, it is almost impossible to differentiate them.

They share a lot of stunning qualities and benefits which makes them both as inseparable as siblings.

We wrote a detailed review about hemp vs linen and you could read it here.

Why Wear Hemp? TOP 10 Reasons

The moment we met hemp linen we fell in love and we still are!

Hemp linen has a plethora of unique qualities and benefits friendly for the waters, fields and forests, our air, our Planet and  our Future.

1. Natural

Since hemp linen is made out of 100% organic hemp plant it is a natural material which provides a variety of benefits. No pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers are being used in the process of the hemp plant.

2. Sustainable & Eco-Friendly

Not only no chemicals are being used during the growth of the hemp, but also the plant renews the soil around it with each growth cycle.

In addition to that, hemp absorbs and traps carbon dioxide from the atmosphere more CO2 per hectare than any forest or commercial crop, and requires about half the amount of water cotton uses. Approximately absorbs 15 - 22 tonnes of CO2 per hectare.

Moreover, hemp is a fully biodegradable and compostable material.

3. Moisture-Wicking & Odour Resistant

Hemp can absorb up to 20% of its weight but still feel dry to the touch. Being in direct contact with our skin, hemp linen makes sure to eliminate the perspiration as well as the odour-causing bacteria (body odour) allowing more wears between washes.

4. Breathable & Thermoregulating

Airflow travels through the hemp fabric letting your skin breath. At the same time, hemp has natural thermoregulating qualities keeping you cool in the summer and keeping warmth during the winter.

5. Soft On The Skin

Even though hemp linen is quite dense and heavy, it is surprisingly soft to the touch and extremely comfortable to the skin. The best part is that hemp, same way as linen, becomes softer with time and washes.

6. Durable

When purchasing hemp garments, you can expect them to stay for many years if not decades. Tensile strength of hemp is up to eight times greater that of cotton making hemp one of the most durable fabrics.

7. Easy To Wash & Care

Taking care of hemp is simple same way as of linen. It is very important to remember is to always read manufacturer’s care label and follow their instructions.

General recommendations are to wash hemp using a washing machine or with hands in a low temperature (usually 30°C or 86°F). Use delicate detergent and no softener.

Due to its moisture-wicking quality, hemp dries very fast which saves lots of time - you can wash and dry hemp garments overnight. We recommend air-drying linen in a spacious well-ventilated room or outside.

8. Antibacterial & Antifungal

Hemp fabric fights against different bacteria, including MRSA and E. coli, as well as fungal stains making it extremely friendly for people with allergies and sensitive skin.

In addition, hemp is resistant to mould, salt water and rotting which is especially relevant for travellers and people living in humid climates.

9. UV Light Resistant

Being one of the most UV light resistant natural fabrics, hemp protects your skin from sun rays.

In fact, it blocks more than 50% of ultraviolet light as compared to regular cotton garments.

10. Timeless & Comfortable

Hemp linen outstand fast-changing fashion trends and stands for the best slow fashion causes. Garments made out of hemp linen are comfortable to wear casually and are easy to incorporate into looks for special occasions.

Why Choose Hemp Dress?

A dress made out of organic hemp fabric will become your wardrobe favourite the moment you try it!

Hemp is a breathable and heavy material which will ensure your comfort from the morning until the evening.

We have already discussed the fact that hemp is a natural material, this will make your dress the perfect outfit for a picnic on a hot summer day or for an afternoon at the beach same way as on a cold autumn or winter evening.

A layer underneath and on top of your hemp dress will help you to keep warm even more. Layering hemp dress, same way as linen dress, is extremely easy due to Son de Flor’s timeless shapes and forms.

Final Thoughts

We hope you have learnt many things about what is hemp linen, how it is made, what is its history and what are all its wonderful qualities and properties.

We also hope we motivated you to start adding some items of hemp clothing made with hemp linen to your sustainable wardrobe and enjoy the beauty of this magical fabric!