As a hemp lover, it was unthinkable not to tell you aboutAfends which manufactures clothing with hemp fiber. This Australian brand concentrates a quality of manufacture, a unique design and a vision of the future. Their watchword is 'Question Everything'. We therefore obeyed them and questioned Jono Salfield, co-founder and marketing director. He is very good at answering questions and is convinced that the hemp revolution is underway.
Hello Jono, tell me a little more about your background. Why did you create Afends and why hemp clothes?
Hello Geoffrey! I studied design and multimedia. I have always been passionate about clothing design. So it seemed natural to me to create a clothing brand.
After ten years of existence ofAfends, we've seen a lot of brands use organic cotton or recycled polyester. That's great, but hemp surpasses them in durability. This is the main reason that prompted us to launch into hemp clothing. The other reason is that it matches our values.
It is difficult to find the origin of your name. What does Afends mean?
It is a completely invented word. We didn't want a word that came out of the dictionary. It is also a mix between, on the one hand, the constraints of trademark rights, and on the other hand the desire to reflect our culture. It signifies everything that represents us: skateboarding, surfing, culture, lifestyle, punk rock. All these keywords that gave birth Afends.
You must constantly be inspired to find new and creative ideas: marketing, videos, books. What is your type of environment when looking for inspiration?
Have you ever been to Byron Bay? This is where we are based, a small coastal town in Australia. There is a lot of culture here, but also fashion brands, surfers, famous musicians. It's a melting pot of diverse cultures and people who inspire the brand and the direction we take. If you come here you will notice that the city influences the design of our clothes.
I imagine your city is open about hemp. Is this the case in the rest of the country?
I think the vision for hemp in Australia is shared. We are one of the last countries to legalize it as food. The law was passed in November. Before that, there were a few companies that sold hemp seeds but they were not allowed to do so as food for humans. Australia is quite backward.
I know that in France, you have made a lot of products with hemp for years now. You are one of the world leaders in the use of hemp in products. I think when Australia catches up, the thought that associates hemp with marijuana and THC will go away. Then we will only think about using it because it is practical and helps mankind. We will use it as a superfood, as a strong fiber for clothes or a building material for houses.
In Byron Bay, we have hemp bricks to build the houses. A business is successful because of this and the inhabitants have a great interest in building their houses with hemp brick. The government is making progress on hemp difficult, but the general population is more open.
Does working with hemp bring you difficulties with your potential collaborators?
The major distributors have a problem with the images we produce. They say parents will complain, thinking we are promoting marijuana.
I don't know if you've seen the skate ramp in the middle of the hemp field. Many of these images were not allowed in major shopping malls. We also sell our clothes in smaller, more relaxed stores. We have no problem with them. It is also fully accepted on our own website and in our stores. It will still take time to be fully accepted.
Tell me if I'm wrong, but in your documentary " The Afends Hemp Revolution You say that hemp is so sustainable that you pose a threat to big business. Are they trying to stop you?
No, we don't have any companies trying to stop us. Hemp clothing costs a lot more to make. If it was cheaper and the companies were worried they would be competing, it might be different. But that does not happen. There are a lot of developments today and we have the freedom to use hemp in our clothes.
The concern is that you have to sell a t-shirt for $ 10 more (Editor's note: compared to cotton t-shirts). At the moment, it works for us. People love our brand. However, they are still price conscious, it might slow us down.
What will happen to hemp in ten or twenty years?
Ten years from now, one could imagine that huge “fast fashion” companies would get down to hemp and be forced to be more responsible. They could push the industry hard enough to make hemp a standard. The reason that cotton is used so much is the development of machinery and infrastructure in this industry. If the infrastructure behind hemp was so developed, it would be easier to produce it. I think that within twenty years hemp could become one of the most used fabrics for clothing.
This only applies to this industry. For others like food, it will also be widely used as it is very easy to grow. In developing countries, there is not a lot of water because of the climate (Editor's note: growing hemp requires little water). Hemp also requires few machines to grow it.
You are very optimistic! What about Afends? Are you going to become one hundred percent hemp?
We want it. Again, the only concern and what takes time to progress is our manufacturing cost. Also, you can't make a fabric with just hemp, you have to combine it with cotton. We cannot reach one hundred percent.
For example, our Hemp 3.0 swim shorts are blended with recycled polyester. When there is a stronger interest in hemp, more money invested, and a more developed infrastructure, then we will prefer to use hemp only. More brands could produce hemp clothing and that would be awesome!
Your slogan "Question Everything" is very visible on your site. What happens when you question your claims about hemp and your responsibility as a business?
This is a good thing ! Everyone should question everything. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the news we listen to. It's a good thing if people question the “Hemp Revolution” (Editor's note: Afends produced a short documentary and a range of hemp clothing named “Hemp Revolution”). They will then do more research on the subject.
If they do research, they will find the same information as we do. This will turn them into ambassadors for hemp. It is an incredible thing. The more you question things for yourself, what you have probably done for your products, the more likely you are to find the truth. With internet access, news and people's opinions, you have a wide range of information. You have at your disposal other than local news and what is in the trade papers. You can see through all the spiel. You always have to question everything.
What made you take this message?
I believe we always wanted to create clothes or other media to display a message on saying to us:
- It must be simple.
- Why not express a positive message for the world, make people want to be better people, to do better actions, to take care of the world?
Before closing, what would you say to people who don't know anything about hemp?
Study it. Do your research. Ask yourself why it was the most widespread culture in the 18th century, and why without it it would have been difficult for humans to progress. Ask yourself why it stopped, first in the United States, then in the rest of the world. Don't always listen to what governments and corporations say when something is considered illegal.
Then try to eat hemp food, wear hemp clothing, or cosmetics and soap. See what you think. Every time someone tries on a hemp t-shirt they say, “Wow! I don't really want to wear other t-shirts anymore. This one is so soft and comfortable, even after several washes. They also last longer ”.
With Jono, as with the other hemp ambassadors, we come out of this conversation smiling and full of hope. If you feel the same, take a look at their site to find out more about their philosophy and hemp. The hemp revolution is underway.