History of the Modern Hemp Shoe

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Adidas Hemp Shoe Sparks Controversial Beginning

When Adidas introduced their new line of hemp shoes in 1996, it caused quite a stir within the Clinton administration. So much so that Lee Brown, then director of the White House’s National Drug Control Policy Office, made a rather bold suggestion. He asked Adidas President Steve Wynne to reconsider the name of their newest sneaker.

In hindsight, it’s easy to reflect on the absolute absurdity of the request. The idea that someone in his position felt he had the authority to way in on the decision was troubling. But, equally alarming was that the request seemed to indicate a lack of understanding of the difference between hemp and marijuana. The Adidas hemp shoe was (and still is) made from strong, durable fibers derived from the outer layer of the hemp stalk. Hemp has only small traces of THC and has no ability to get you high. Yet, Brown made the call anyway. Wynne replied with a rather blunt (pardon the pun) one line retort. “No one will be smoking our shoes.” And so it began! Not only have these shoes endured the test of time, the Adidas Hemp brand has grown to include a successful clothing line as well. Today, the Adidas Hemp Shoe remains an iconic symbol of the company's long, storied history.

rolled up hemp fabric

Benefits of Wearing Hemp Shoes 

Hemp is more than just a good marketing concept. Using this eco-friendly material supports a global environmental initiative.   
  • Environmentally friendly: Sustainable hemp crops sequester enormous amounts of carbon dioxide from the air. They also require far less water to grow than cotton and are fibers are biodegradable and recyclable.
  • Antibacterial properties: Hemp fabrics resist mold, mildew and fungi while reducing odors.
  • Durability: Hemp is a far stronger material than cotton and won't weaken from washing. 
  • Hemp retains color: Hemp fabrics will hold onto their color far longer than cotton.

Are Hemp Shoes Comfortable?

Hemp fabric is lightweight and breathable, keeping your feet cool and dry all day. Hemp material softens and stretches slightly over time. This makes your shoes more comfortable the longer you wear them. The break in process allows fibers to conform to your feet without weakening the fabric strength. Hemp shoes are ideal for summertime wear or year round warmer climates.

How to Clean Hemp Shoes

Brush dust and dirt off your hemp shoes periodically and spot clean small stains when necessary. Using a washing machine is not recommended as shrinking is possible, especially if hot water is used. Typically, hand washing with warm (not hot) water and mild detergent is recommended. Hemp fabric exceptionally durable. Taking care to keep these shoes clean clean will assure lengthy wear time.

Where to Find Sustainable Hemp Shoes And Clothing 

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Hemp fabrics have been commonplace throughout the world for thousands of years. Yet, the political climate had stunted its growth and usage in the US. The release of the Adidas Hemp shoe made the company one of the early pioneers to promote modern mainstream sales of hemp products in America. Recent changes in government policy have allowed the hemp industry to grow and flourish in the US. This combined with greater public awareness of environmental issues has launched hemp products into the retail and online forefront. As the market continues to expand, so do the available options to choose from.

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