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How Canvaloop hemp denim could be an industry game changer

Sustainable fabric and yarn company, Canvaloop prove running a successful Kickstarter campaign can be a start in changing an entire industry

Kickstarter may not be the most obvious place to look for funding but Canvaloop is an example of how it can change everything for an independent brand with a strong idea.

Global warming has meant we have all had to change the way we approach our shopping habits. Although we are much more conscious about plastic use or single-use objects, there are still plenty of hidden environmental horrors in our daily lives. One of the ways we can practise more environmentally friendly shopping is to examine our wardrobes.

Consumers are looking for more alternatives to traditional fabrics such as cotton, creating a new industry that start-ups are prime to provide for.

This is in mind, there has been a rise in the number of companies offering hemp products from underwear and socks to knitwear. But the path to funding in the hemp clothing industry can be tough. One way in which start-ups are avoiding the heartache of funding rounds is to apply directly to the consumer through crowdfunding apps such as Seedrs or Kickstarter.

Canvaloop is a success story when it comes to taking this path.

The company launched their first-ever campaign in December 2020 at the height of lockdown. They decided to start with a line of hemp denim products that came in three colours.

Shreyans Kokra, founder of Canvaloop said: “In December, we concluded our first-ever Kickstarter campaign, Slow, which was our jeans line.  They are the world’s first jeans made from the wild-growing cannabis in the Himalayan region. Our team started work on the campaign in April, during the lockdown. Canvaloop is a B2B company creating alternative textile fibres and yarns from bast crops using proprietary technology.”

Shreyans Kokra, founder of Canvaloop

Their campaign proved to be incredibly successful by raising thousands of the $10,000 proposed. This was raised by 86 backers across 20 different countries who were promised some of the first pairs of denim jeans when the company went into production. It has subsequently paved the way for the company to put more items into production.

Shreyans said: “We started with a blank canvas, a novice team with no direct experience and a beginner product photographer. We managed to raise $14,000 which was funded by 86 backers across 20 countries. Our team at ‘Slow’ had an amazing time running the campaign. Despite the challenges that come with running a successful Kickstarter campaign, we believe that using a crowdfunding campaign is one of the best ways to launch a brand or novel product. It helps to build a strong community for your products.”


Canvaloop: A row of hemp jeans rolled up

So what are the environmental credentials behind using hemp?

The fashion industry is notoriously bad for using a large amount of water. It’s accountable for 20 per cent of all industrial water pollution. When it comes to denim, Levi Jeans claim that it takes more than 3000 litres to make just one pair of their iconic 501s. This breaks down to 49 per cent used in growing cotton to make the denim than a further 45 per cent used by consumers in washing their jeans. The final 6 per cent is consumed during manufacturing.

Hemp offers a way out of all the wastage.

It takes on average 50 per cent less water to grow hemp in comparison to cotton. Hemp is able to bioaccumulate pulling carbon out of the air as it grows to help areas that struggle with pollution. This is why it was planted during the 1990s in areas such a Chernobyl to help decontaminate the soil. It is also a notably durable fabric that can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

For their ‘slow’ denim, hemp was an obvious choice for Canvaloop.

Shreyans said: “There are so many materials claiming to be sustainable but hemp stands out. It requires significantly less water to grow, no insecticides or fertilisers of any kind. It rejuvenates the soil that it grows in and probably has the lowest carbon footprint among textile fibre crops. It solves many problems that the fashion industry is infamous for.”

Canvaloop: A ball of hemp fibre

One of the performance benefits includes how naturally antibacterial it is due to the high lignin and pectin content in the fibres. This means it has less odour, reduced chances of skin infection, can withstand multiple wears without washing and has natural anti-UV properties that act as a natural shield for your skin against harmful rays.”

He concluded: “It is also one of the strongest natural fibres and is at least three times more durable than cotton. The porous structure of the hemp fabric means its extremely breathable keeping sweat away. It makes it more comfortable to wear the jeans for long periods of time.”

When it comes to sourcing hemp, Canvaloop turned to Himalayan hemp which grows naturally in the mountain ranges of India and Nepal. It has been growing without interference from humans for over 5,000 years. Natural rainfall is the only source of water the crops receive. The seeds are not sown by anyone either but by nature twice a year. The hemp takes just 90 days to grow in comparison to the 160 days that cotton needs to be ready for harvesting.

As a result, the crop grows faster, can be harvested quicker and has a better turnaround time than traditional fabrics.

Demand for denim will never slow down. It is estimated that on average, women own seven pairs of jeans each while men own six. However we only really wear four of these items on a daily basis. Most fashion houses such as Tommy Hilfiger or Armani moved into the industry making it more commonplace for designers to have a denim line.

As well as water wastage, denim is also responsible for a certain amount of microplastics being released in the environment along with dye spillages which have destroyed drinking water in areas of China.

Chemicals turn up in water sources near denim factories. This includes the synthetic dye needed to make the indigo blue colour. The Xintang river in China is now a permanently dark blue shade as a result of the dye in the water. The factories there produce about 300 million denim items per year.

It’s becoming more difficult to ignore the damage we are doing to the environment when confronted with blue rivers, microplastics and pacific garbage patches. This is why Shreyans wanted to work in something sustainable in order to make a difference.

“I got three degrees in finance by the age of 24 and went to the US for a Masters degree in entrepreneurship. I had a clear plan of starting a fintech venture or working for one. But, as they say, life is what happens when you are busy making plans,” Shreyans said.

“The idea of sustainability stuck with me in the US and I wanted to do something about it. We clearly see air pollution by the burning of fuel and the enormous impact of plastic pollution on the plant and Surat, my hometown is the hub of synthetic textiles.

In 2016, I started on a journey to make the most sustainable textile or fashionable material. This is how our core business of sustainable fibre began. We asked ourselves, what do we love as much as being sustainable? The answer was denim and that’s what started our line.”

Canvaloop: Two rolls of hemp fibre

It’s not just hemp that the denim is made from but nettles too.

Another sustainable fabric the company works with is Himalayan stinging nettles. Which grow wild in the same area as the hemp. It has similar but not as many benefits as the hemp does including being adaptable to different weathers due to being a hollow fibre and being microbial as well. The quality of the Nettleloop improves with washing.

Other fabrics include Banloop which is extracted from the stem of the banana plant which was considered a waste product prior to this. It is then processed into textile grade fibres and yarns using green technology. The company also use Pineloop which is made from pineapples although this isn’t launching until quarter 1 in January. Pineloop may present as an alternative for silk.

Shreyans said: “We are growing across all segments in both the fibres and our denim brand. We will be expanding our fibre operation in the coming months and also launching the denim line across the globe within the next 60 days. We will also be coming out with interesting denim options including hemp and bamboo blended denim and also a Hemp Yoga Mat.”

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