I love showcasing sustainable and ethical design brands at the forefront of innovation. But for all the delicious conscious clothing out there, we don’t see much in the way of outerwear. Well, look no further – Hoodlamb are here. A seriously stylish and sustainable outerwear brand, using sustainable hemp fibre to design and make the some of the most forward thinking, ethical, winter hemp clothing around. I’m so delighted to share my recent interview with them, all about their process and their incredible journey – I can’t wait to share their story.
So, hemp! One of the most innovative fabrics out there, but also one of the most environmentally friendly, right from the planting of the hemp seed to the ongoing life of a hemp clothing product! Why did you choose hemp over any other fabric?
Well, I’ll start from the beginning! HoodLamb started in the early 1990s in Amsterdam – a group of surfers wanted to create a jacket that would keep them warm on the cold beaches of the North Sea (outside of Amsterdam) – something warm they could put on immediately after getting out the water. But also something that was natural and in harmony with the environment, as that was the part of experience of surfing and connecting to the sea that these guys enjoyed. A few were also cannabis users at the time, and interested in the many uses of the cannabis plant – from paper to textiles and more – including of course hemp clothing. So they started experimenting with hemp fabric, and with a hemp based fur lining – and in time, the “Classic” HoodLamb was born – featuring a double zipper which made it possible to wear it while changing in and out of a wet suit.
Your production is carried out in China. What made you decide to work in China? You began by handsewing your jackets in Amsterdam! How did the process evolve, and where did you source your hemp from in the early days of Hoodlamb?
Yes, we started out hand sewing jackets in small workshops in Amsterdam – this was mostly because the scale of what we were doing was very small, and we were doing a lot of experimenting with different fabrics and cuts – which meant that a lot of samples were created and revised and then re-created; a process in which our founders and their friends had to be involved on a daily basis. Our fabrics at the time were sourced from Amsterdam markets, or leftover pieces from fabric warehouses. The move to China happened as our fabric requirements became more sophisticated and we travelled to China to talk to different mills about what they could provide. China is the world’s biggest producer of industrial hemp, and has great expertise in weaving and creating a whole range of hemp textiles. We went there to benefit from this expertise, and over the years have developed strong, lasting relationships with a handful of mills and manufacturers.
Wow, that’s fascinating! And what about the trimmings, such as the faux fur you use, and the threads and fastenings. What eco-friendly and ethical choices have you made in regards to these details of your garments?
Our faux-fur is what makes HoodLamb iconic – we use a mix of hemp, recycled PET, and acrylic to create beautiful thin hair-like fibres that are often mistaken for the real thing – particularly our “faux-fox” fur on the Nordic Parkas. We believe imitating nature is the highest goal and we aim to create the best cruelty-free fur that is beautiful and keeps you warm. All our trimmings are free of any harmful substances, including nickel. We pay a lot of attention to detail when we create HoodLamb jackets, including the dyes we use, which are colour reactive and GOTS certified.
When it comes to sustainable and ethical clothing, people often think of t-shirts, and more everyday garments. Did you detect a real demand for sustainable outerwear or did you really have to push the product at the start?
We certainly made the original jacket because we didn’t know of a similar product available – a sustainable winter jacket that was truly warm. To this day, there don’t seem to be a lot alternatives for truly warm winterwear that is sustainable and vegan. Certainly the growing awareness and demand from consumers for these kinds of products has helped us to grow and bring our product to market.
You have a line of clothing that donates 10% of profit to Sea Shepherd, which is fantastic! What made you choose an ocean protection charity in particular?
There seemed to be a lot of things that pointed toward working with Sea Shepherd from the beginning – our closely connected vision for a better environment made possible by personal choices; our commitment to protecting animals (in our case, not using them in the manufacture of our clothing); and a shared love of the ocean. In a way we found each other, 10 years ago, and neither Sea Shepherd nor we have looked back since.