New Hemp Fabric Provides Lycra Alternative

We Americans love our Gore-Tex and our Lycra. Even the greenest among us will disregard these synthetic fabrics’ environmental impact when we need them for yoga clothes or outdoor gear. We may not have to look away any longer—an alternative made from hemp is on its way.

CRAiLAR’s fibers are made from hemp, a durable plant that requires no pesticides to grow. Photo By Mr. T in DC/Courtesy Flickr. 

In hopes of replacing Lycra, Naturally Advanced Technologies (NAT) is developing CRAiLAR fiber from hemp stalks. Fabric made from CRAiLAR feels like cotton; it’s soft and supple and comfortable to wear year-round. Because CRAiLAR is made from hemp, it’s also strong and durable. NAT also claims that it reduces shrinkage.

CRAiLAR is still in the developing stages, so it’s unclear how much the fabric will cost. Recent trials indicate that blending it with cotton may reduce manufacturing costs. Passing legislation that would allow American farmers to grow hemp would bring costs down farther still—and generate much-needed revenue and industry for people who need it.