Byron Bay-born street, surf and skate brand Afends has firmed its commitment to hemp clothing, purchasing a property to begin growing the plant in Australia.
Speaking to Ragtrader, founders Jonathan Salfield and Declan Wise said the business has bought a 100 acre property just outside of Byron Bay, which will serve as a hemp research and development hub.
The property also houses an old golf club house which the brand is turning into a creative space for its team.
Initially, Afends will grow an acre of hemp and then process it to be able to use it for clothing, co-founder Declan Wise said.
"Once the hemp is grown, we'll harvest it and then we'll run it through a decorticator and the decorticator will separate the fibre from the core.
"Well keep the core in Australia and we'll sell that or give it to local builders, and they can basically make concrete out of that - there's a lot of 'hempcrete' houses getting built around here.
"Then we'll send the fibre to our supplier over in China and we'll let them take the process from there.
"They'll test the hemp to see if it's good and we'll work with the supplier to get the hemp right," he said.
From there, Afends hopes to be able to create a formula for local farmers to be able to replicate the process and grow hemp themselves, Wise added.
"We've got a few different farmers who are really interested in growing it and they just want to know what the formula breakdown is.
"If we can get to that level, then there's a bit of opportunity to start to create our own industry here.
"The only thing that we're missing for our own industry here is the degumming process - there's no degumming facility in Australia," he said.
The investment into locally grown hemp comes as the business releases its newest hemp collection.
Originally beginning its hemp journey with a pair of boardshorts, the business has since introduced hemp-blended-with-organic-cotton garments including jeans, tees, skirts and jumpsuits.
"It's crazy how many different fabrics you can blend hemp with," Jonathan Salfield said.
"We even blended hemp with silk and made like dress shirts and stuff like that.
"The reason why hemp is so sustainable and the thing that I like most about it is that it's a crop that can be grown in a lot of different places in a lot of different conditions," he continued.
"Then when you look at it further, and you're looking at the amount of pesticides you need for conventional cotton to grow and how toxic that is for not just the soil but the people - if you were to replace that with a hemp crop, you won't need any pesticides - it's a weed, it will grow.
"And then the third thing is that it takes a lot less water than cotton," he said.
"There's more yield as well," Wise added.
"It's around about three times more, so you get three times the amount of fibre," he said.
And while the fibre has traditionally had a 'hippy' stigma attached to it, Afends' garments are actively working to dismantle that perception.
"It's taken a few years to make some really good hemp products so that our consumer sees it and thinks 'wow, you can actually do some pretty cool stuff with it,'" Salfield said.
"On our website we have quite a well-thought-out section called For the Planet.
"There we've got a lot of detailed information about, not only our complete supply chain, but about the company, who works here, the initiatives we do and detailed information about different fibres and stuff we use.
"We get quite a lot of traffic to that site so I feel like that's the best source of truth for the most information that we put out there," he said.
Afends' new hemp collection is available in-store and online now.