Today we are going behind the scenes with a brand I have loved since the beginning of my journey. Their vision to create a sustainable fashion house has evolved over the years into more than just a clothing business but an empire which inspires communities, carves paths for social change and a voice for environmental justice.
The three incredible women that stand behind it, are for me, the most important part of this story. It has been a privilege to grow with them in this industry and to date still inspire me and many others on a daily basis. Every time I wear one of the pieces from the collection I am reminded of their authenticity which makes me proud to parade their story.
Meet The Hemp Temple.
As a raw material, how does hemp compare to cotton and in what ways has hemp earned its emerging reputation as one of the most sustainable materials?
Cotton is the staple comparative fabric for hemp and other materials, mainly because it is the most common fibre used in the textile industry and has been most widely misunderstood in regard to its impact on the environment. Firstly, if we take a look at the growing process, cotton uses about 2700 litres of water for every kilogram of fibre. In fact some regions are running out of water because of the cotton industry, especially since most cotton growers use an array of chemicals such as insecticides to protect the crop. Cotton growers use about 25% of the worlds pesticides, the runoff of chemical use pollutes the natural water resources and turns the soil acidic. Chemical cotton is also super damaging to wear, the chemicals jus absorb into the skin and create all sorts of medical issues. Hemp, on the other hand requires about half of the amount of water to grow and is naturally repellent against insects, so most hemp fibres are totally chemical free. Hemp also grows a lot quicker ad produces about 200-250% more fibre than cotton grown on the same amount of land. As a material, what makes hemp more amazing than other fibres is its high durability and strength, its natural bacterial qualities and the fact it is generally highly breathable. Hemp can be woven into an incredibly vast array of materials, which are only just beginning to be released into the marketplace.
As a company familiar with hemp and its potential in the fashion industry, do you see hemp becoming a prolific material in the manufacturing of mainstream clothing in the future?
Absolutely. It’s a no brainer really. With increased consumer demand and awareness, hemp is already in higher demand and what’s good for business will become mainstream relatively quick. The more designers move towards hemp the cheaper the material will become and the more accessible it will be internationally. Hemp is more costly than cotton as a fibre because it has been in a lower demand, but economy should equalize relatively quick as the Hemp Revolution is in full swing.
To what extent is total transparency throughout the supply chain and manufacturing process of a garment important for consumers as we head towards a more conscious consumption?
I believe it is one of the most critical elements in the conversation about sustainability in both the fashion industry and in our climate emergency conversation, particularly in politics. For too long organisations have been allowed to market, manage and govern societies based on untruths and misinformation. Transparency is needed throughout our global community in all areas but a lot of businesses are afraid of the reprimand for unethical impacts, but what we have to remember is that people are generally very nice and if businesses are not yet at their most sustainable best selves and haven’t reached all their goals; that’s okay. But in a transparent model, consumers can be a part of that journey where we each strive to do our best and take responsibility for our mistakes.
The colour palette of the Hemp Temple’s collections is relatively neutral. Is this dictated by the use of natural dyes or this a decision that has been made in order to create and encourage a more timeless and durable style?
It is a combination of both. We love colours and we also value neutrality because it is the most accessible and therefore most likely to be worn many times. We have been working with natural dyes, which we adore but have also found that they are very delicate to the elements and can be prone to changing quite quickly. We plan on introducing some more colour once we have found the least impactful dye quality for our garments.
To what extent does body positivity and inclusivity feed into the Hemp Temple’s designs?
For women, most of our designs are wraps, either skirts or tops and sometimes dresses. We have used these styles for years now with slight variations because they offer easy accessibility to body shapes and sizes. They are really flattering for the feminine figure, giving from for curves to be accentuated or loosely worn; depending on the individuals size. Body positivity and inclusivity is very important to us but we are only just scratching the surface of how inclusive we aim to be. We are working on creating a wider range of sizes at the moment. This is definitely one of our immediate goals and we are exploring some new manufacturing possibilities that will make the process a little easier. Reaching goals can be slow but that is a sustainable pace for us, allowing us to minimise waste or overproduction.
As purveyors of well-made, thoughtful pieces, do you feel that the pervasive availability of extremely cheap clothing makes it difficult to set prices that genuinely reflect the many hands and minds that helped to create each garment? Or are consumers becoming more open to investing in brands whose conduct and prices are more ethical?
In my experience, I have received both sides of the coin in our communities’ response to pricing. There is definitely a larger market of conscious consumers who don’t mind paying higher prices for sustainable items, yet we live in a diverse world and many who are young students or in the lower economic margin just don’t have the same flexibility in their buying choices. It makes me sad because I want these people to have the opportunity to buy our clothing, but our prices represent our costs and their value. It seems to me, also on the consuming side of the clothing world, that there is a price point for really nice ethical clothing and it is quite steep. So yes I believe that fast fashion does make it a lot more difficult for people to understand appropriate pricing, as the easily accessible and highly marketed cheap alternatives are everywhere. It is quite a dramatic shift in mentality that has to happen, and that awareness and acceptance process can be quite slow.
Has educating consumers regarding hemp as a garment material been a challenge or has the movement towards more sustainable consumption guided consumers organically towards the notion of wearing hemp?
In the beginning there was definitely a higher need for education and explanation, particularly with having two shop fronts I think we saw a wider range of people with varying awareness of the fibre. The youth tend to be quite educated with the benefits of hemp, the elder generations less so. But the gap is definitely closing, it has been a pretty organic growth for us and conscious consumers are on the rise.
What’s next for the women behind the Hemp Temple brand?
Mmm so much! We are moving to Europe for some work opportunities and to bring Hemp Temple to the European market later this year. We will still have our home base operations in Australia continuing as normal and we will fly back and forth checking on our family in India and Nepal and also exploring a new manufacturing opportunity at a sustainable factory in China. One of our main goals is to move towards 100 percent hemp fibre garments and China is where that happens. So we are researching and exploring our options on the back end whilst getting very excited with our creative vision for Europe and to meet the conscious communities over there! We have also just launched our ‘Sacred Activist’ Peace Tee, of which 50% of profits are donated to the Bob Brown Foundation to Stop Adani, in Australia. We are very passionate and involved in the fight for climate justice and want to bring as much of that education and empowerment through the Hemp Temple as we can.
Finish this sentence: Hemp to me is..
Learn more about The Hemp Temple here.