WHAT IS THTC?
The Hemp Trading Company (THTC) is an ethically driven underground clothing label, specializing in eco-friendly, politically-conscious street-wear using the hemp plant as the basis of their clothing.
Born out of a university Hempology society, THTC was established back in September 1999 by eco-pioneers Dru and Gav Lawson who had a vision of creating a design-led ethical fashion brand using organic, sustainable fabrics.
Worn by trendsetting icons, THTC has driven the ethical scene for over a decade and has established a loyal fan base featuring some of the biggest artists and musicians from B-boys to DJs, MCs, bands, labels, poets, actors and above all, activists.
THTC has established a successful underground image through close sponsorship with many of the UK’s biggest and best respected artists and club nights, initially within the Drum and Bass and hip hop scenes then, later, expanded to breaks, reggae and rock. THTC have secured the support of Goldie, DJ Hype, De La Soul, Danny Dyer, Wu Tang Clan, Skinnyman, Beardyman, Damon Albarn, Woody Harrelson, Newton Faulkner, and Benjamin Zephaniah, making it ‘cool’ to care.
THTC COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS
As well as providing clothing for their sponsored artists THTC has also produced band and artist merchandise for over 40 bands, magazines, societies and artists. Fans of the label include Woody Harrelson, Amnesty International, Richard Branson and X Factor Judge Sinitta.
Activism is at the heart of THTC and collaboration with graffiti artist Mau Mau has ensured that THTC is at the forefront of cutting-edge art and trends.
THTC collaborations to date:
- The Burma Campaign UK - Newton Faulkner - Peace not War - The NHS - Zulu Nation UK - Asian Dub Foundation - Morcheeba - The Ecologist Magazine - Renegade Hardware - The Foreign Beggars - Beardyman
THTC’s ethics not only lie within their products, Lawson’s passion extends throughout almost every element of their company. Continually researching and sourcing the most eco-suppliers and manufacturers to ensure it is ethical every step of the way. THTC does not believe in compromising their ethics for style.
THTC’s hemp range contain a minimum of 55% hemp and 45% certified organic cotton, built under ethically sound factories in China, a country with the longest standing hemp industry.
The majority of THTC’s screen prints utilise discharge screen-printing processes and water based ink. All fliers, swing tags and catalogues used are printed on recycled paper pulp, printed with vegetable dyes.
THTC clothing is produced in factories that are regularly monitored, which adhere to the international labour organisation (ILO) and are a member of the See Companies (www.seecompanies.com), requiring THTC’s production to be fully accountable and traceable through the whole supply chain.
THTC is also a founding member of the Ethical Fashion Forum (www.ethicalfashionforum.com) and has come runner up at the Observer Ethical Awards and the Re:Fashion Awards (www.refashionawards.org) for ‘Ethical Clothing Product of 2007’ and ‘Environmental Clothing Company of 2008’ respectively.
The clothing is manufactured by people who receive full safety training, and belong to a labour union. The minimum age of employees is 19, the maximum age being 54. They work 8 hour shifts and have weekends off - (That’s more than us at THTC central!)
All our Hemp is grown on small family farms in North Eastern China. It is and always has been grown organically
All our certified organic cotton is also grown in China. This is a fledgling industry that THTCsupports and saves the energy and expense of shipping in from Europe or India.
THTC now uses water based inks (comply with GOTS) with a discharge screen printing process for almost all new designs.
Eco Paper is used for poster printing, and will soon be used in all THTC flyers, swing tickets and catalogues.
Jeremy Smith, former Editor of The Ecologist says of THTC: “When I started work at the Ecologist magazine seven years ago the idea that environmentally friendly clothes could also be at the cutting edge of fashion was laughable. It was back then that I first met Gav and Dru from THTC. While everyone else seemed to be making ill fitting and deeply unflattering clothes that wouldn’t make it into a Littlewoods catalogue, they were - years before anyone else that I knew of - actually responding to what the young people with whom they remain so connected wanted to be seen wearing. Now of course every Kate, Sienna and Lily wants to be seen in green, but for me it will always be THTC that got there first and did and said it best.”
THTC’s ethical vision is starting to gain the credibility they deserve priding themselves as founding members of the Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF).
THTC has come runner up for ‘fashion product of the year’ at the Observer Magazine Ethical Awards and runner up at the Re:Fashion awards for the environmental award.
In 2008 and 2010 CEO Gav Lawson was listed in the Future 100 social entrepreneurs.
The new THTC designs are seasonal as well as politically challenging and very much in keeping with the brand as a whole, including:
‘Plenty More Fish in the Supermarket’ - Spreading awareness about the perils of over-fishing ‘The Reapest’ - Inspired by oil-related pollution ‘Free Zulu’ - Part of the profits for this shirt are going directly to political prisoner Kenny ‘Zulu’ Whitmore, a Black Panther who has been held in solitary confinement for over 33 years for a murder of which he’s widely regarded as being innocent of.
As well as the brand new designs, THTC are reprinting popular favourites ‘Weapon of Choice’, ‘Amen’, ‘Optic Global’ and ‘Noah’s Shuttle’.
THTC has also recently produced organic t-shirt ranges for Sinitta, Newton Faulkner, The Angola 3 and ‘Journey’ - Helen Bamber’s foundation (supported by Emma Thompson) to raise money and awareness on human trafficking.
Gav Lawson Biography
Gav grew up near Ripley, Surrey, next to a farm. He spent most of his childhood playing football, fishing, playing piano and drums and has been riding off road motorbikes since the age of 5. Gav also swam a lot, snowboarded and listened to music almost all the time.
“My Dad always had an old Juke Box full of 50s and 60s Motown, Jazz, Soul and Rock, so my music taste was always very much by old music. I very rarely listened to commercial chart music growing up, and I have no interest whatsoever in doing so now!”
Because of growing up in the countryside Gav has always been in love with the environment. His Mum had a veggie patch and most of the vegetables the family ate were homegrown. Gav spent 6 months in Kenya at the age 18 too, working as a teacher and football coach.
“My Mum was a massive fan of David Attenborough, and we were always watching nature documentaries as a kid. I grew up surrounded by animals and nature and feel most at home in a rural environment.”
Gav has a huge admiration for David Attenborough, Hugh Fernley Whittingstall, Woody Harrelson (for his continued promotion of hemp as an industrial crop), Lucy Seigle and, above all, for his parents.
His parents are without a doubt, the people Gav admires more than any other. He also has a lot of respect for his older brother Dru, who turned him into an activist in the first place.
“Without their influence I would probably have gone into the advertising industry, working for big oil, Tesco, GSK and fast food chains, and there would be very little of my soul left!“
Finally, Gav has massive respect for so many of the highly talented musicians with whom he’s worked over the last decade. None of them have ever asked for any money, and many have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help promote THTC.
At Venice Beach, California, Gav’s brother, Dru, was given a hemp cap by his father to celebrate 4th of July. He noticed the label which said ‘This hat is made from 100% organic cannabis. You cannot smoke this garment’.
He later found out the link between hemp and cannabis, and did his dissertation on hemp at university. On discovering the potentially planet saving benefits of hemp, he and his younger brother Gav Lawson started up hemp awareness societies at Hull University
and U.W.E respectively. On leaving UWE Gav went to study Music technology at Kingston and it was there that the brothers set up THTC.
• Top of the year out of 80 students at The University of the West Of England (UWE) in Advertising in 1999 with a 84% average.
• Nominated for the first ever Observer Ethical Awards in 2006
• Nominated for Environmental Product of the year at the ‘Re:Fashion Awards’ in 2008
• Named in the Future 100 social entrepreneurs of 2008 and 2010
• The first organic / ethical clothing brand to be stocked into Virgin Mega-stores
• The first organic / ethical brand to be stocked into TKMaxx
• Runner up in the BBC’s ‘Make your Mark in Fashion’ project for London Fashion Week.
• The UK’s leading hemp street wear company for a decade.
• Creating and influencing thousands of environmental activists within the UK’s urban music scene.
“Working closely with many of my music heroes and helping influence the lives of such people who had a huge influence on my life when I was growing up.
I actually think that, in this day and age, keeping a company going for a decade is an achievement in itself, and I am proud of what THTC has achieved what I’ve learnt, and the people I have worked with.”
RECYCLED MY ONLY ONE; REMADE HEMP RANGE
The Hemp Trading Company (THTC) has joined forces with offbeat London design team My Only One (www.myonlyone.co.uk) to create a collection of six women’s wear designs made from recycled hemp clothing.
Recycling signature pieces from THTC’s past collections, My Only One has transformed T-Shirts and track pants into sports-infused tank dresses, asymmetric tops, tennis skirts, playsuits and bandeau sundresses. Imaginative and modern, the Limited Edition Recycled Hemp Range is available exclusively at www.thtc.co.uk.
Outspoken solo artist Aruba Red (www.myspace.com/arubaredmusic) is the face of the campaign. The collaboration is an affinity between two brands with a singular vision.
Both brands offer a sustainable and ethical form of fashion.
With a flair for reviving vintage and second hand clothing with a contemporary slant, My Only One has garnered a cult following amongst eco-conscious, directional consumers in the UK.
The new THTC website (built by B Pages and Amy Ash) fully harnesses the potential of THTC’s social media accounts including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube – incorporating tools from these popular networking sites into the framework of the site. Product pages, artist profiles, gallery images and news can be ‘liked’, tweeted and shared on Facebook and people can comment on and rate products.
Far from being just an online shop, www.thtc.co.uk boasts its own radio station - THTC Radio – which offers exclusive, unreleased tracks from some of THTC’s sponsored artists, its own TV channel - THTC TV, musician and graphic designer profiles, monthly discount vouchers exclusive to THTC’s community and a new payment system run by RBS (only PayPal options existed on the old site).
The website also provides plenty of information on THTC, the company’s ethics, background, sponsorships and much more within an intuitive and easy to navigate interface.
Mixing a t-shirt with 55% hemp instead of 100% conventionally produced cotton can save over 2500 litres of water and the use of 28 grams of chemical fertiliser per shirt compared to a 100% standard cotton t-shirt. Sources: US Environmental Protection Agency, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, World Wildlife Fund, World Health Organization, Pesticide Action Network North America
• Hemp is an environmentally sustainable, organic plant that needs no polluting chemicals to be grown.
• Hemp has over 50,000 different product applications across a whole array of industries. This includes food, paper, fuel, plastics, cosmetics and textile amongst others.
• Hemp fibres are thermodynamic, keeping the wearer warm in winter and cool in summer.
• Hemp has a natural mould resistance and a natural resistance to UV light.
• Hemp is the strongest natural fibre making it 4 – 6 times stronger than cotton.
• Hemp fabric is softer, warmer, more water resistant and more durable than cotton.
• With modern farming techniques hemp can now be grown with 10% the water usage of conventionally grown cotton.
• It is possible to grow hemp organically on most of the world’s farmland.
High profile supporters of hemp: Prince Charles, Richard Branson, Johnny Depp, Charlotte Di Vita, Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Anniston and Colin Firth.
Lucy Siegle, Observer Ethical Columnist: “The fact that hemp has attracted so much opprobrium (historically fear was whipped up by those with powerful interests in the cotton trade) is a significant mistake. Older and wiser, clever design companies now prefer it to so-called eco materials (bamboo and corn starch fabrics) as a low tech solution to a myriad of ecological issues caused by the global fashion trade. We should love it, use it, mix it with other natural fibres, wear it close to our skin and with pride.”