In her Laguna Canyon studio, Laguna Beach artist and designer Michelle Hutchinson proudly holds up a bikini she has created from hemp-based fabric. She excitedly explains why hemp material is so much better to use for a bikini than other fabrics.
“Because hemp is anti-microbial, it doesn’t allow for bacterial growth,” says Hutchinson. “It doesn’t get ‘funky’ after a day at the beach. It’s porous, so it dries more quickly on a clothes line or in a drier. This uses less energy. Every time you wash hemp, it gets softer. Feel how soft this is!”
Chris Boucher, Laguna Beach resident and owner of Hempsteads International, is on hand delivering fabric to Hutchinson in her studio. He supplies Hutchinson with material for her creations.
His company’s products include T-shirts, fabrics, clothing, hemp protein, seeds, oil and body care items. He imports fair trade hemp fabrics from China, as well as products and clothing made from organically grown plants.
“This means,” says Boucher, “that the plants are grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides, and that the fabric producers and clothing manufacturers receive a fair price.”
Boucher got his start in the surf and beach clothing industry 15 years ago in Costa Mesa. Hutchinson has made clothing for festivals, including the Sawdust Festival, for the same amount of time. Both of them saw the beach apparel industry “vanish” from Southern California.
“Seventy per cent of the apparel industry,” says Hutchinson, “has been outsourced to China.”
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