Hemp Introduced in Volcom Products More Than 10 Years Ago and It's Back in a Big Way

At Volcom, we’re envisioning a new future where our oceans are strong, our climate is stable, and our societies are fully engaged. We are not new to this, we are True To This. In fact, this general vision dates back nearly more than a decade and it was back in 2006 when Volcom introduced hemp into the line for the first time. It was featured in a small collection which eventually helped us launch what was then called the V.Co-logical Series, Volcom’s first foray into more sustainable fibers, fabrics and processes.

That program has continued to thrive and while we let go of the V.Co-logical branding, we have not let go of the commitment to making our products in a less impactful manner. In fact, an entire line of Volcom Stoneys Trunks are enhanced with hemp fibers. Better fiber sourcing is an important priority in our sustainability strategy, and hemp, considered one of the oldest fibers to be used in textiles, contributes greatly to the portfolio and ongoing sustainability mission.

Industrialhemp.jpgCultivation of industrial hemp for fiber by Aleks - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
  • Hemp is derived from Cannabis sativa, a flowering plant species that has been widely grown for its industrial and medicinal uses and effects of its derived products. Often confused with marijuana, hemp is a non-intoxicating variety of cannabis with only trace amounts of THC.
  • Hemp is said to be one of the first plants that was introduced into society and its common marketplace 10,000 years ago as a usable fiber.
  • We have found that upwards of 65% of the environmental impacts associated with our products are from raw material sourcing and processing; so when we source better, more sustainable-based fibers, we reduce our impacts. That means as a customer, when you buy products made with recycled, organic, or hemp fibers, you are creating more demand for products that have a lower impact on the environment.
  • Growing crops for textiles results in environmental degradation that can have an impact on people and our planet. Additionally, crops require a lot of energy, water, waste, and land use. Hemp performs well in each of these areas.
  • Hemp is a wonder fiber with at least 30,000 uses. The seed, the oil and the fiber are found in foods, beauty products, cleaners, paper, building materials, fuel, and in our case, textiles.
  • Hemp, right next to linen (flax) has been used to make textiles since ancient times – we’re talking 2800 BC in China (it’s native to central Asia). In fact, hemp translates to cannabis in Latin, and apparently is the root word for “canvas,” used for making sails for boats.
  • Hemp has an amazing history, not just in the United States, but throughout the world. It’s been said that it’s one of the oldest plants that has been in continuous use by human civilization, perhaps even the world’s first agriculture crop potentially leading to the development of civilization itself!
  • A great bang for the buck as hemp produces up to 3x more fiber per acre than cotton.
  • Hemp fabrics are known for their excellent breathability, strength, versatility, adaptability, moisture absorbency, and naturally occurring antimicrobial features. It keeps you cool on the hot days and warm on the cold days.
  • Hemp is a resilient, low maintenance crop which requires very little in terms of chemical inputs during its growing season.
  • Hemp cultivation is associated with little waste as nearly all the by-products are used in one way or another.
  • An annual plant, hemp grows relatively quickly (more than 4’ in month) and because it has a deep root system, it suppresses weeds and requires little, if any, pesticides. It leaves the soil in excellent condition for the next round of crops.
  • In a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute that measured the ecological footprint, hemp was ranked lowest when compared to cotton and polyester (Volcom’s #1 and #2 fibers in terms of quantity). Mostly thanks to the high crop yields per hectare.
Hanfstengel.jpgHemp stalk showing fibers by User:Natrij - Own work, Public Domain, Link

Hemp is a bast fiber (similar to flax and jute) and is made by extracting the woody fiber from the stalk by a process called retting which separates the fiber from the stems. Retting is done with either natural bacteria by a process called dew rettingnatural water retting (standing and/or moving water), or water retting, which is done with either chemicals or enzymes.

After the retting process, the stems go through additional processes to further remove fibers from the woody core. Those fibers are then combed and spun in preparation for textile manufacturing.


Because of its awesome sustainability profile, and because so much our impacts come from raw material sourcing and processing, you’ll likely continue to see hemp in Volcom products. As of now, most of the hemp we acquire is grown in China, but as attitudes towards industrial hemp continue to evolve across the globe that could change. The demand for hemp is booming. Used in thousands of products you might use every day like cooking oil and salad dressings, and cosmetic lotions and creams, the hemp plant offers outstanding benefits and nutrients and unmatched qualities for textile fibers, building materials, and cordage. More than 30 countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, France, and China, produce large volumes of industrial hemp and more and more are coming on board as countries learn that hemp can be up to four times more profitable than corn or soybeans and offers growth potential and better returns than tobacco.