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FyberX in Partnership with Textile Powerhouse Toyoshima

Hemp innovator FyberX has entered a partnership with Toyoshima & Co. Ltd. to supercharge its goal of developing the worldwide hemp fiber market, particularly in the U.S. where it has long been hindered by underinvestment and legal restrictions.

Toyoshima & Co., based in Nagoya, Japan, is leading the latest investment round through its corporate venture capital fund, Fashion & Technology No. 2 Investment Enterprise Partnership. The collective vision is to target the growing market for sustainable goods, improve hemp fiber products to generate demand and grow the number of end uses.

According to Ben Young, founder and CEO of the Williamsburg, Va.-based FyberX, the alliance will help propel hemp fiber into the mainstream of the eco-textile market and gain market share.

Currently, the U.S. hemp fiber industry has little in the way of meaningful infrastructure, according to Young, though companies such as Panda Biotech are also looking to carve out a niche. In this new collaboration, Toyoshima’s role will provide equipment technology to boost processing capacity and better serve apparel brands globally.

With Toyoshima, the product will also be improved, Young said. “We are on a mission to produce hemp-blended yarn with drop-in compatibility with the existing fashion and apparel textile infrastructure and processes,” said the CEO.

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To date, most hemp decortication has involved a chemically intense wet process to achieve the right hand for best and widest use in apparel and home furnishings. According to Young, new technologies are more environmentally friendly, including hydrothermal and enzymatic solutions. He would not reveal specifics, saying they were proprietary but would be made public over the coming months.

Young said the company would do third party analyses to substantiate sustainability claims. He noted that in Europe, where hemp was never prohibited, the fiber has an excellent sustainability profile that he hopes to establish here in the U.S. market. Hemp was removed from the list of controlled substances and reclassified as an agricultural product by the 2018 Farm Bill. This legally eliminated the plant’s links to marijuana, although the public has been slow to get on board.

Worldwide, hemp is known widely for its “green” properties. It uses far less water than cotton and reportedly absorbs more CO2 than any other plant crop, in addition to other ways it remediates the soil. It also has a longer filament than cotton.

Toyoshima did $200 billion in sales in the U.S. last year and collaborates with 800 brands across Asia. Both brands are committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and their own internal ESG (environmental, social and governance) goals. Young is confident his company can produce hemp fiber in a way that benefits farmers, helps rebuild rural communities decimated by the loss of textile mills, regenerates soil, and provides better alternatives to damaging industries, including traditional textile operations.