Hemp is one of the most versatile and socially significant plants in human history…
With a genealogy that can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia and China, hemp is believed to be the first plant used for weaving fabric to make clothes. Throughout much of Asia and the Middle East there exists a long history of using hemp for a wide range of practical applications such as textiles, paper, ropes, sacks, and even sails for sailboats.
In Vietnam, the cultivation of hemp for fabric weaving has also existed for millennia. Its cultivation and use, however, has traditionally been limited to the H’mong ethnic minority communities living in remote mountainous areas along the border with China. The plant’s ability to thrive on steep mountain slopes with rocky soil, harsh weather conditions, and little upkeep required, makes it an ideal crop to support traditional H’mong lifestyles.
The H’mong weave hemp fabric for use in their daily costumes, to make family heirlooms, and for use in special religious ceremonies. Weaving techniques are passed down by women from one generation to the next and are thus regarded as an integral component of cultural continuity. As such, H’mong communities believe hemp to possess sacred properties with supernatural powers. A piece of hemp is often hung in the doorway to ward off evil spirits, for example, and are thought to bring good luck.
Gathering a harvest of mature hemp and stripping off the leaves is the first step in fabric production for our Blue H’mong artisans.
Blue H’mong artisans in Hoà Bình province work with Kilomet109 to plant and harvest hemp plants on land their ancestors have been tilling for centuries
Kilomet109 hemp collaboration
Kilomet109 collaborates with two communities of H’mong women, the Black H’mong of Lào Cai and the Blue H’mong of Hoà Bình, to grow hemp and weave a range of special fabrics for use in our collections. We currently work with these communities to harvest 3 areas that cover 5.4 hectares of land.
One of the reasons we love using hemp is because the plants are environmentally friendly. They require no extra watering, little weeding, and no pesticides. Basically, we plant the seeds on the mountain side with some organic compost and after 3-5 months they’re ready to harvest. Due to harsh winter weather conditions in northern Vietnam, however, we are limited to just one harvest per year. Our hemp fabric is therefore in limited supply. It’s handmade from start to finish by talented artisans and only of the finest quality. .
For our collections we use hemp for making jackets because it’s durable yet breathable, weatherproof, lightweight and long lasting. We also rock polish the fabric with beeswax, using a traditional H’mong process called calendaring, that creates a beautiful shine. You can see some examples of these hemp products by clicking here, here, here, and here.
Blue H’Mong women share a laugh as they prepare for the hemp harvest in Hoà Bình province
Black H’Mong artisan in Lào Cai weaving hemp using a traditional wooden foot-loom.
Hemp stalks are stripped of their leaves in preparation for the peeling process.
After drying out for a week the hemp stalks are peeled into strips to be joined together to make hemp yarn.
Our hemp is handmade from start to finish by talented artisans and only of the finest quality. Strong yet breathable, weatherproof, lightweight, and long lasting.
Making hemp fabric by hand is a laborious and time consuming process. There is a refined artisanal quality to the fabric we use that just cannot be replicated by modern machines.