Nepal Hemp is Hot for Hippie Retailers and Not Cooling Down

Scott Smith Sep 25, 2023
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( If you are a retailer/reseller, click here for wholesale buying info).



Nepal is a wondrous place, situated way up in the Himalayan Mountains.  It attracts a lot of free-spirited, nature-loving types of people who savor the unique indigenous Buddhist-inspired culture and craftsmanship found there. Many westerners go there as tourists and trekkers,

and they usually end up buying souvenirs. As tourists buy things, the local vendors react by designing new items that cater to their tastes. As their understanding of this gets better, they get better at matching these demands with new and interesting designs and these in turn show up on the shelves of shopping outlets around the world.

This ancient history has all kinds of exotic-looking spiritual symbolism, like the painting and carving of temples and architecture. This type of look translates well into western fashion for hippie tastes but also to a large percentage of regular mainstream tastes. Especially among younger people, students, bohemians, beatniks, and adventurers. For example, Nepali Backpacks, Rucksacks, and Day Packs, are one of the most common items incorporating locally made fabrics.

(Of course, if you are just looking for a good all-around

fashionable contemporary backpack for schools, travel, or general use, then these are today's most  popular brands;  Jansport backpackNorth Face, Sprayground Back Pack, Nike Back Pack, Day Pack)

Traditional Nepalese cotton fabrics are very beautiful, colorful & imaginative. Note the rainbow of colors in the fabric used to construct this shoulder-style backpack.

 Combining these traditional Nepali fabrics with locally produced hemp fabric, and making them into backpacks and other accessories offers a compelling patchwork look. 

This is a 100% hemp-made item, perhaps more for the purist.   

As an alternative, many backpacks and bags have printed and embroidered images, drawing from the rich fabric of Buddhist iconography as well as more contemporary images.  Lotus Flowers, Buddhas, Evil Eyes, yin-yangs, etc. 

(Some other commonly made Nepali hemp fabric items are, pants, hats, fanny packs, and wallets. Hemp oil also derives from the hemp plant.

Sadly, Nepal is one of the world's poorest regions, with many people in rural areas living on 2 to 5 dollars a day.  

The combination of this low labor cost, the hand-crafting tradition, the exotic fascinating symbolism, and the availability of materials like hemp, make it an excellent place for export-oriented manufacturing. Cottage industry is the norm here, meaning that much of the work simply gets farmed out to people to work in their homes. Usually paid by the piece. Whereas, industrialized countries rely on small and large factories.

Hemp Fabric

For many generations, hemp has been grown and cultivated in Nepal due to its resiliency, durability, and strength. Sadly, the industrial cultivation of hemp is still illegal. For this reason, people must use Cannabis plants that grow wild and naturally in rural mountainous areas in Western Nepal.

As a robust fiber, it is a wonderful choice for manufacturing garments and accessories. Unfortunately, people must work much harder to travel out into the countryside and harvest these free-growing plants. Hopefully, the Nepal government and other governments around the world will wake up more and more to the craziness of the laws prohibiting hemp industrial manufacturing). Fiber extraction is a slow, complex, and exhausting process that is entirely done manually in the western regions of Nepal. All the steps of making hemp cloth, from planting seeds through all the stages of processing the fiber to spinning and weaving the yarn, are still performed predominantly by women. Hemp is grown naturally without pesticides, fungicides, or toxic chemical fertilizers. It gets harvested in the Fall after about 120 days of growing. Then it is left out to dry. After this, it gets soaked in water for many weeks. Then the outer bark is removed from the stock. The plant's fibrous portion is twisted, laid out in the sun to dry, and then mashed with sticks to soften it. Then it is spun into thread, boiled in water and wood ashes, and strained multiple times.

Hemp Facts

The lifetime of Hemp is longer than any other natural fiber. It is biodegradable. It absorbs moisture and doesn’t attract mildew and mold. It doesn’t get holes from moths if left sitting in boxes for long periods.  It resists other insects as well. It has hollow fibers, which keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It has antibacterial properties. It holds up better than cotton when washing it and gets softer and brighter with every wash. It absorbs and holds dyes easily. It shrinks and expands less than any other natural fiber.