The superior sustainability qualities of the centuries-old hemp fabric have been known by environmentalists and hippies for decades, but it has taken pro-cannabis legalisation and the backing of science to de-stigmatise the benefits and uses of this plant.
Learning of the eco-friendly properties of hemp fibre and betting that it would gain mainstream acceptance, US-based sustainable underwear brand WAMA made hemp central to its value proposition. This has proven a wise business decision indeed. From building and construction materials to food and cosmetics, the wonder plant touted as “the world’s most sustainable” is found in many modern products, getting the recognition it deserves and putting WAMA in good stead.
WAMA is the pioneer in hemp underwear, producing a range of classic styles for both men and women. The label sources its Global Organic Textile Standards certified organic hemp fabric from China, the world leader in hemp farming and textile production. Similar to bamboo, hemp requires no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides to grow well and grow quickly; the plant even improves soil health rather than depleting it. Considered a niche crop, hemp is mostly grown on family-run small organic farms
Designed in the USA and made in China, WAMA’s products are well made and of the quality you can expect of a sustainable brand. While the phrase “made in China” often conjures up images of mass production lines, unhappy workers operating under forced labour conditions and cheap, low-quality goods, WAMA proves that high-quality products and ethical manufacturing in China is not only possible, but achievable when partnering with responsible factories that share the same values of sustainable production, minimal environmental impact and upholding worker’s rights to dignity, respect and living wages.
Transparency is so important in WAMA’s supply chain in fact, that the business even has a team member located in the region to regularly visit and audit their factories. Furthermore, by ethically manufacturing close to where its organic fabrics are sourced, WAMA is able to reduce transportation costs, minimise carbon emissions and ensure its final prices are accessible to most.
As part of our collaboration, WAMA posted several pairs of hemp underwear for my partner Ben and I to try on. I’d never donned a pair of hemp undies before and I was keen to give their “super comfortable” undies a go. Hemp is a hardy fabric known for its durability; so hardy in fact, that comfort isn’t an adjective one usually uses to describe it. In fact, years ago, I got a rude shock when I received the gift of hemp bed sheets from a local business. Upon opening the box, I was dismayed with the hemp material; the tough fabric felt scratchy and stiff. It was a problem I thought could be resolved after several washes; long story short – it didn’t. Trying to sleep on the hemp bed sheets was a disappointing affair. I have super sensitive skin that irritates easily and given the competing demands of EWP and our organic farm, I need a good night’s sleep and can’t afford to toss and turn, itch and scratch night after night. No matter how ‘natural’ and ‘sustainable’ the hemp bed sheets, it can’t be forgiven for ruining my sleep. As a result, the hemp bedding have been relegated to the bottom of the linen cupboard.
So given my lacklustre encounter with hemp bedding, I was somewhat skeptical of WAMA’s claims that its underwear was “super comfortable” and “super breathable”. So when they arrived and I opened the recyclable packaging, I quickly ran my fingers over the fabric and found, to my pleasant surprise, that the material was super soft to the touch. My surprise turned to confusion. How could this possibly be? How could WAMA’s underwear be silky soft when my experience of hemp bedding had me feeling like I was living out the tale of Princess and the Pea?
Sure enough, after checking the label printed on the inside of the underwear, I found my answer; WAMA’s underwear is actually a synchronistic blend of organic hemp, organic cotton and spandex; 53%, 44% and 3% respectively. The fabric’s softness made much more sense; if the undies were made of 100% hemp I dare say I would reconsider wearing it around my private parts when my experience has shown I can’t even lie on the material without my skin irritating!
President of WAMA underwear, Shakib Nassiri, upon learning of my experience offers further explanation, “100% hemp doesn’t necessarily mean rough anymore… I think the reason why the hemp bed sheets were rough is because it was a woven fabric. Our fabric is knit fabric. I think that is what made the difference. Woven hemp can be rough but knitted hemp can be soft and comfortable.” Great to have that clarified.
Now as I am accustomed to doing, I washed the underwear first before wearing and noticed that the colour remained in tact, no dyes bleeding into any of my other garments in the wash. Thank goodness. Trying on the black hipster style I noted that the XS fit properly; the organic fabric perfect for my sensitive skin; the elasticity of the spandex allowing movability without cutting into the folds of my skin around my hips, buttocks and crotch area. The design also provided enough coverage with just a slight hint of cheeky so I could walk around without having to readjust the fabric (read: pick my wedgie). All-in-all, I’m very satisfied with WAMA’s hemp undies and would recommend, particularly as I am vegan and WAMA underwear is a PETA-approved vegan brand. Winning!
Ben, who owns many pairs of daggy and holey jocks and boxers coming apart at the elastic waistband (“I’m not going to get rid of them, it’s not sustainable!”), tried on WAMA’s men’s trunk style undies in ‘large’ and immediately felt at ease in them. “These are the comfiest undies I own,” he tells me as he strikes a silly pose. That’s a big statement coming from Ben who is fussy with fashion that doesn’t perform. Ben grew up in the coastal town of Byron Bay; a town known for its super relaxed, hippie, free-flowing vibe. This cool, casual, comfy feeling is what Ben expects of his garments (and in fact, everything in his life) so if a garment isn’t comfy, Ben won’t wear it. Good to know WAMA undies meets Ben’s comfort standards.
Now Ben and I live and work from our certified organic farm and wholeheartedly believe in a natural, synthetic chemical-free lifestyle. We aren’t a couple that does sustainability in halves. We are all in. Given our super practical, organic lifestyle, brands that commit to organic inputs and sustainable methods of farming get a big tick from us – including WAMA.
For the ultimate undies trial, Ben went about his business on the farm. If they irritated him while working, I would soon hear about it. I didn’t hear any complaints; just praise. His hemp undies are super comfy, fits well, looks good and he isn’t chafing. For a bloke who sometimes roams around the farm in only his jocks (“If you can’t do it at home, when can you?”) I’m just glad he’s doing so in a pair that looks good, feels good and is good for the earth.
Thanks very muchly WAMA.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by WAMA. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own. Specific product information is checked with the business. For more information about our policies, click here.
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