Monforts denim mills move hemp into the
There is an urban legend that hemp canvas
was used to make the very first pair of Levi’s jeans. While this
is a myth that originated in the counterculture of the 1960s,
hemp is without doubt the fibre of the moment for the denim
At the second Kingpins24 virtual denim
show that was broadcast from New York on June 23rd and 24th, the
sustainable benefits of hemp fibre were referenced by many
Monforts customers who are now including it in their
collections, including AGI Denim, Artistic Milliners, Black
Peony, Calik, Cone Denim, Naveena Denim Mills (NDM) and Orta.
“Hemp is an easy to grow fibre which
requires no irrigation, no fertilizers, no herbicides and no
chemicals,” says Allan Little, Director of Product Development
for Cone Denim, which has recently launched its Sweet Leaf
collection featuring the fibre. “Significantly, it also uses
fifty per cent or even less water than cotton in cultivation.”
Monforts Head of Denim Hans Wroblowski at the new
CYD pilot line at the Monforts ATC in
It can also bring some new aesthetics to
denim too, he adds.
“Hemp has a unique colour and adds a
different cast to our indigo, the drape and texture of the
fabrics is different and it even adds a bit of a unique hand,
so combined with its sustainable credentials we are proud to be
bringing the Sweet Leaf collection to the market.”
Cone Denim has recently launched its Sweet Leaf
collection featuring hemp. © Cone Denim.
US supply chain
Cone is currently sourcing its hemp from
France, but with much of its manufacturing now in Mexico – and
with the introduction of the US Farm Bill in 2018 which has
legalised the growing of legal hemp – is exploring the
possibility of investing in the US supply chain.
“With US hemp we’re really at the R&D
phase,” Little emphasises. “It’s a unique crop, so coming up
with the right stalk to provide the right fibre is challenging.
We’ve experimented with different types of seed and various
methods of decortication.”
Decortication, he explains, is the
mechanical removal of the outside layer of the hemp stalk to
useable fibre on the inside. A second process, cottonization, is
necessary to make the fibre suitable for spinning, because
compared to cotton, hemp is longer, stiffer, and less flexible.
At the end of 2019, Naveena (NDM),
headquartered in Karachi, introduced fabrics featuring up to 51%
hemp content in blends with Tencel and recycled polyester and
this year has developed the first 100% hemp denims.
“The response to the fabrics we showed
last year was incredible and we were looking forward to the
response to this latest development – which everyone was asking
for – at the Kingpins show in Amsterdam, which unfortunately was
unable to go ahead,” says NDM’s Director of Marketing Rashid
Iqbal. “We produced initial samples in an undyed state because
we were not sure how the wet spun yarn would react in the
dyeing, but I’m happy to say we have had success in this respect
and are now able to provide one hundred per cent indigo dyed
Cottonization, is necessary to make the fibre
suitable for spinning, because compared to cotton,
hemp is longer, stiffer, and less flexible.
© Cone Denim.
“Differentiation is the key in the
highly-competitive denim industry and we have assisted our
customers with trials and optimised processing parameters for a
range of different fibres, including hemp, both at our Advanced
Technology Centre in Germany and at their own mills around the
world,” says Hans Wroblowski, Monforts Head of Denim. “Given the
environmental benefits of hemp, and the liberalisation of its
cultivation in many parts of the world, the interest in it now
comes as no surprise. We have the technologies and know-how to
help our customers to fully maximise their hemp denims at all
post-weaving stages of production.”
Monforts has a dominant position in the
field of denim finishing with its well proven Montex stenters.
It has been enjoying further recent success with its Eco Line
concept based on two key technology advances – the Eco
Applicator and the Thermo Stretch.
The latest Monforts innovation for denim
is the CYD yarn dyeing system. This technology is based on the
effective and established dyeing process for denim fabrics that
is now being applied for yarn dyeing.
The CYD system also integrates new
functions and processes into the weaving preparation processes –
spinning, direct beaming, warping and assembly beaming, followed
by sizing and dyeing – to increase quality, ﬂexibility, economic
viability and productivity. A full CYD line is now available for
trials at the company’s Advanced Technology Centre.