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Madewell’s Secret Ingredient for Summer Denim? Hemp

Madewell is on a mission to reclaim denim as a summer fabric, and it’s using hemp to do so.

The brand announced a new line of women’s lightweight denim that’s intended to rival linen as the top fabric to wear during warm weather. Hemp’s long list of benefits, like its innate protection against UV rays and bacteria, brings functional elements to Madewell’s Summerweight Denim collection and positions denim as an airy, breathable material.

Hemp has been a fiber of interest in recent years, with industry leaders incorporating more of it into denim as restrictions lift, awareness grows and innovations to make it more wearable advance. Last month, Wrangler expanded upon its collaboration with Dallas-based Panda Biotech, an emerging leader in the industrial hemp fiber industry, to bring traceability and scale to the textile-grade cottonized hemp grown and processed in the U.S. Premium denim brand AG debuted a line of biodegradable jeans featuring hemp and other natural fibers, signaling an industry-wide shift that’s bound to spread in the coming years.

Experts continue to champion the fiber for its lower water usage and ability to grow in infertile lands, but note that its higher price point could hinder its popularity.

Madewell’s Summerweight Denim includes five styles, the majority of which are made with cotton, elastane and hemp-blended fabrics from Turkish denim mill Orta. The majority of fabrics include 6 percent hemp.

Along with the sustainable and breathable benefits of hemp denim, Madewell is touting the fabric as a soft yet durable addition to closets, noting that the material is three times more durable than cotton. According to Mary Pierson, Madewell’s senior vice president of denim design, the brand will continue to work with the fiber.

“We’re committed to continue incorporating more hemp into our clothing because it is such an exciting and sustainable fiber to work with,” she said.

The collection, available in sizes up to 24W, includes updated bestsellers such as the Perfect Vintage Jean and the High-Rise Denim Short. Other styles include a high-rise slim “boy jean” with light distressing and a high-rise cropped skinny jean. A pleated denim mini skirt will launch later this month.

Select styles are now available on the Madewell website. Pricing ranges from $69-$135.