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Optimizing Sustainability with Certified Cottonized Hemp

COVID-19 recovery is on the horizon but the pandemic's impact on sustainability, retail, product development and consumer buying patterns means the denim industry must evolve. Join Rivet on April 20th at 11 am ET for the COVID, One Year Later roundtable.

Just as consumers crave cotton for its comfort, hemp is adored for its sustainability. In an inevitable matchup of these two fibers, cottonized hemp fiber is the perfect lovechild—soft to the touch, easy on the earth, and increasingly requested by textile manufacturers. French fiber producer The Flax Company has taken its 30+ years of experience and recently created its own brand called Marmara Original®. The blend is also the first cottonized hemp in the industry to receive official sustainability certification by the OCACIA organization.

The certification covers R&D and agricultural commitments, ensuring that no pesticides, phytosanitary products, GMOs or irrigation is used in the cottonized process. “Every step of each production batch had to be independently traced, checked and certified from the field to the factory, from seed to the final blend of cottonized fiber,” said Denis Druon, CEO of the Flax Company.

After a two-year development, Marmara Original® is catching on, especially in denim.

 “As a garment maker, we were seduced by this new blend of fibers in the world of denim,” said Didier Taillebois, commercial director of Decant Group, owner of the Arawak and Demad apparel manufacturers. “The result is particularly interesting, no washing treatment needed, and the raw rendering is magnificent. [The denim] segment, which is usually rather quiet in terms of fabric innovation, is seeing a blend that will shake up its world in the short term.”

Here, Denis Druon describes the process behind the company’s expansion:

Why did The Flax Company go into cottonized hemp? 

We were already selling cottonized flax fibers for decades, and the spinners asked us to develop a hemp fiber that could meet the spinning industry’s technical requirements in response to market demands. Many brands asked them to develop yarns and fabrics with hemp fiber. We worked hard for two years to come up with Marmara Original®. It’s not only eco efficient but also a long-lasting product due to its natural qualities of strength and durability.

As a long-time fiber supplier to the industry, how did Marmara Original® blend seamlessly into existing systems?

We wanted to offer users—cotton spinners, weavers and brands—a product that could be used with existing technologies so they wouldn’t have to modify their equipment. It was a learning curve to develop the right product working hand in hand with spinners close to the denim producers. Hemp was a more than welcome addition to their range, bringing an instant natural sustainable touch to cotton yarns. Our qualities of cottonized hemp are used in blends from 20 to 50 percent hemp to spin from 8’s to 30’s counts, meeting the needs for both the denim and shirting industries.

What differentiates Marmara Original® from other cottonized hemp brands in the market? 

We produce Marmara Original® from a strict selection of the finest French hemp fibers. During the industrial process, we blend several lots from different areas of production to ensure a consistent quality and color, month after month. We didn’t want this fiber to just be technically proficient; we demanded that it carry sustainability values. Its sustainability certificate is actually a two-step certification. The first regards the cultivation methods used and the initial processing, while the second certifies the mechanical refining process.

What makes it especially sustainable?

Hemp grown in France is by nature a sustainable and friendly fiber: non-GMO seeds, no phytosanitary products and only rain fed. It is also a formidable carbon sink and generates zero waste since everything is being used in the plant. There’s no irrigation necessary (it’s only water fed), compared to cotton fiber that consumes about 10,000 liters of water per kilo of cotton fiber. The hand touch of cottonized hemp is very soft, and since hemp is a very strong, durable fiber, we expect the lifetime of the product to be stronger.

Our team of experts and companies involved at each stage of the process—farming, decorticating, cottonizing and marketing—have an incredible amount of expertise and capacity to adapt the hectares/production to meet the market demand for the coming years. Our production in Western, Central and Eastern France minimizes climate risk, and having the factory close to the production areas also proved a big plus in reducing carbon emissions.

What type of textiles is Marmara cottonized flax best suited for?

Traditional hemp is coarse with limited spinnability, but since denim uses low yarn counts, Marmara Original® cottonized flax is the perfect fiber for denim purposes. Flax could also work, but hemp is the most sustainable fiber, which is why demand for it is so high. So, Marmara Original® is not only a long-lasting product due to its natural qualities of strength and durability, it’s also eco efficient.

To learn more about the benefits of cottonized hemp and Marmara Original, click here.

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