Have you ever bought something ugly out of sympathy? You found no redeeming physical feature in the thing – a shirt, a bracelet, whatever – but you feigned the desire to have it simply to make the seller feel relevant or talented. Well, that’s always been my buying experience with hemp clothing. As someone whose favorite color is fuchsia, I’m not biologically attracted to the standard half-white-half-brown noncommittal color of hemp. Nor do I find it clever when the artisan name-drops Mary Jane with a cannabis-themed design, leaning on the popularity of hemp’s sister plant (marijuana) to compensate for the relative obscurity of hemp. It suffices to say, whenever I’d buy a hemp item (shirt, tote bag, etc.), I did it as an act of kindness.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered hemp’s longstanding status in haute couture, i.e., high fashion (no pun intended). Apparently, while I’ve been arrogantly judging it, this plant has been accompanying models and movie stars down catwalks and red carpets – for more than a decade! It had a spectacular breakthrough in New York back in 2008 at Earth Pledge’s FutureFashion show, created and held as a prelude to that year’s New York Fashion Week. Designers showed off outfits made either partially or entirely of hemp, and that tradition – blended or straight-up – has maintained a place in wardrobes ideated by reigning fashion designers and luxury brands. Here are some samples of the hemp (or part-hemp) products of 20 high-fashion designers and luxury brands below.
Dolce & Gabbana
Source: Miu Miu
Source: The RealReal
Yves Saint Laurent
True, many of these designs – though imaginative – fall back on what I’ll call the traditional hemp color previously described. But what impressed me, in the first place, is the fact that these highly esteemed creatives in the fashion industry were ever willing to stake their reputations on something I’ve never found … well, fashionable. (Granted, I’m not the one out there setting the latest trends.) And yet the hemp high-fashion industry has proven both resilient and timelessly trendy. So, there you have it. I’ve been put in my place – and I salute hemp for it.
Kathleen Hearons is an editor, writer, voice over actor and avid cinephile. She lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.