Apart from hemp being a conversation starter (because while its cannabis, hemp and marijuana are very different), participating in this sustainability movement of sorts felt awesome. Until I ordered my shirts from B Label — the fashion line from Bombay Hemp Company (Boheco) — the only time I’d seen hemp was Made in Nepal bags that people travelling to Kasol had bought in their state of moksha.
Hemp clothing was one of those things I knew I had to have the minute I heard about it. Radical, sensible, sustainable and novel all at once. I didn’t care what it looked like or how it felt, I just wanted it. It was less about the product itself and more about what it meant to use something revolutionary and eco-friendly in everyday life. I feel so great about hemp making a comeback in India.
So I got a 100% hemp shirt and a hemp-cotton blend t-shirt from Boheco to see what kind of promise they had.
An objective critique of hemp clothing outside the context of its benefits isn’t fair. But if we were to truly consider ourselves conscious consumers, it’s a total no-brainer.
Does it have the finish and softness of cotton? No. Does it have the same bright colours as synthetic fabrics or cotton? No. Is it cheaper than cotton? No. Does it win on the novelty factor alone? Hell yes. And there’s a whole lot more going for it.
To answer a question many may have, when wearing Boheco’s hemp fabric, I felt no discomfort, difference or awkwardness at all. It was a very cool experience. Hemp’s acceptance and popularity will soon be on a steady upward trajectory; I have absolutely no doubt.
Boheco (B Label) Nomad Classic T-shirt
- Dark grey
- 30% hemp and 70% organic cotton.
- Check out their t-shirt collection here
Boheco (B Label) Fusion Sativa 188 Shirt / Kurti
- 100% hemp
- Check out their shirt collection here
First impressions about hemp fabric
When I first opened the box and held it, I felt the 100% hemp shirt is not exactly light, but isn’t unbearably heavy either. It feels a lot like linen in its weave and texture. I’ll just be straight here — this isn’t the light and soft cotton we’re used to.
But once I put it on, I couldn’t feel the weight so much. I got used to it quite quickly. Though I’ll admit that the fun factor of wearing hemp clouded my judgment a little bit. Why wouldn’t it, it’s kind of the point, I guess.
The t-shirt was a more familiar story. It’s 70% organic cotton, so it was much softer to the touch. Yet the 30% hemp gave it the character that differentiates it from other t-shirts I have and wear. It feels raw with an edgy realness, thanks in part to the fact that the colour on it isn’t very vibrant. Given my personal preferences, that is a compliment. I mean, if distressed denims are so in, what’s wrong here?
I would have loved a 100% hemp t-shirt, but I’m told that knitting 100% hemp yarn for jerseys is difficult, so cotton blends are more common.
The full package
Boheco are pioneers in India’s hemp revolution. They are going the extra mile in getting people used to hemp in their lives without drawing incorrect parallels with marijuana. As they are involved with other areas of the hemp business such as cultivation and medicine, they put clothing under an umbrella they call B Label.
As is becoming increasingly common with young, indie brands, packaging is an important part of the brand identity and experience. The tags and note accompanying their clothes mention hemp being hypoallergenic and UV resistant, as well as how its one of the strongest natural fibres. It grows organically faster than cotton and consumes less water too.
What I loved most was a line that said “Wear it often, it’s the most durable shirt you’ll ever own”. It’s really great to see a brand stand up for their product like that in times of mindless, excessive consumption where longevity seems to count for nothing.
Living with Boheco’s hemp clothing
I wear the Nomad t-shirt more than the Fusion Sativa shirt and would attribute that to the styling, primarily.
I felt more comfortable wearing a well-fitted dark grey t-shirt as opposed to a bright yellow short kurta. I’m all for bright colours in the right mood, but I feel the length of the shirt is an in-between that doesn’t lend itself well to being tucked in, while feeling slightly awkwardly long when worn otherwise.
A different style and colour may feel very different and I’m looking forward to trying another one. They are introducing new collections and a wider selection of styles, so I’m sure improvements and refinements are on the horizon. In fact, at the time of writing, the Fusion Sativa shirt is out of stock and I’m not sure if it’s coming back. I’m going to make up my mind on hemp shirts by getting something more traditional in the near future and putting some miles on it.
100% hemp isn’t that easy to iron, so I would suggest moistening the fabric with a damp cloth before ironing. That did the job for me.
The Boheco Nomad t-shirt, though, has been a total winner as its got a nice fade over the course of a few washes and wears nicely with pretty much anything that isn’t too radiant. How hemp isn’t generally colour-fast, i.e. it will change colour and lose brightness with washes, can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. If you like rich, vibrant colours, it may not be the best option for you. But if you like to keep it more neutral and enjoy less-saturated colours, it really hits home. And we’re talking about a 900 rupee t-shirt, so I would say it’s pretty good value.
Keeping an open mind to become early adopters of hemp in India
Yes, there are some compromises when buying hemp clothing (not so soft and colourfast), but it feels worth it, even if you just take into account the sustainability angle. Hemp is better and more useful for the environment than cotton. At the same time, to some, like it did for me, things like paler colours may not even feel like compromises in the first place.
I’m inclined to draw a parallel to electric vehicles. It’s something that is clean, bound to be the way of the future if we care about the planet and requiring support of the conscious consumer. At these early stages, we’ll have to cut some slack and give the benefit of doubt. And if we’re making product comparisons, say with cotton, it should be keeping in the mind the ecological benefits of hemp, as they really are quite significant.
Nomad Classic T-shirt is ₹890. Fusion Sativa 188 shirt is ₹2,790.
For a new material that isn’t easy to work with, I find Boheco’s offerings are fairly reasonable.
At the time of writing, the Fusion Sativa 188 shirt is out of stock. But they seem hard at work on new designs, including a fast-expanding women’s line.
January 2019 update: B Label’s latest collection ‘Labyrinth’ has been launched. It has a wide range of colours and styles for men and women. Check it out here.
Buying hemp clothing is a great way of actually making a difference, while having something with novelty and shock value. As I wrote earlier, at this stage in its life cycle, usage of hemp must be viewed from perspective of its larger, long-term benefits — strength, sustainability, versatility, eco-friendliness.
Getting stuff from B Label made me realise that there wasn’t much to resist or get used to in wearing hemp clothing. So I’m happy to be an early adopter, as it’s honestly a great, new alternative. This is reflected in how the movement has found its feet in the US and Europe. It is gaining steam now in India too. Organic cotton may be the sustainability buzzword, but hemp may just be a notch above it.
It’s only going to get better from here in design and finish terms, as B Label and other hemp brands get people used to buying hemp and make it more mainstream.
Who’s it for: Anyone who cares for the environment and is excited about using natural materials
What’s different: It’s made from the oldest fibre known to mankind and is more sustainable than cotton.
Best thing about it: Being written off as a stoner when you tell people you’re wearing hemp
One thing I’d change: Removing the pocket from the Nomad tee and reducing the length of the Fusion Sativa shirt
I bought my hemp shirts online from their website blabel.in. Delivery was fast and hassle free.
Their website inaccurately stated that the t-shirt was 100% hemp. This came to my notice when I saw the ‘Hemp Blend’ label on it. On contacting them, they told me about the composition and apologised for the error. They offered a store credit if I wanted to return it and get something else instead. I kept the t-shirt and ordered another 100% hemp shirt instead after confirming with them that it was indeed pure hemp.
How did you hear about B Label / BOHECO? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this story interesting or useful, please spread the indie brand goodness by sharing it!