As a high school student in the early 2000s, my look was never complete without my beaded hemp necklace. I wore it day in and day out, usually with a pair of flared corduroy pants and a Paul Frank t-shirt. Today, hemp is being used in much chicer applications. Goodbye retro novelty, hello modern and sophisticated.
Hanna Broer is a Montreal-born lingerie designer who uses hemp in her designs. Just the right weave and texture for delicate pieces worn in such an intimate way, it’s blended with cotton and a bit of spandex, and it took Hanna years of searching to find. Ethical sustainability is a key component of her business, and she’s a firm believer in the importance of the hemp plant.
“It’s such a sustainable crop to grow. It’s good for the soil, it grows quickly, it doesn’t deplete soil [and] doesn’t need chemical fertilizers or pesticides. As a natural crop, it doesn’t need to be turned into a chemical mess,” she says, adding that she also values its versatility. “[Hemp has] so many different uses: it’s a very good food source from its seeds, good fiber, good medicine, recreational enjoyment,” she says. “I quite passionately want to use it as much as I can.”
Broer attended school for fashion but quickly realized it wasn’t for her, so she left to work as a seamstress where she learned the ins and outs of sewing as well as pattern production. “I had always made my own clothes but I definitely didn’t know I was going to be making lingerie specifically,” she says. “While I was working as a seamstress I made underwear for myself and they were great and so I started making more and then it seemed like it was kind of a niche product. And so I went with it.”
When she launched her label on Etsy in 2011, post-“Thong Song” era of dental floss-inspired undergarments, the options for lingerie were far more limited than they are today, a welcome change we have independent designers like Hanna to thank for. “While I was at first just having fun with it and making some things that I wasn’t seeing that much around, and then combining comfort and making pretty things was pretty much essential. I started realizing that the undies I would buy were not up to what I was making in terms of comfort.”
It’s mid-January when I call Hanna to chat about her line, and she tells me that this is her first winter living in a yurt in the wilds of Northern Vermont – the state just legalized cannabis for medical last month as well. “We set it up this summer and we’re definitely still figuring it out,” she says. “It’s warm, we have a big wood cook-stove and it’s really cozy but there’s definitely some challenges.” Judging by her beautiful innovations with hemp, I have a feeling she’ll be just fine.
Story by Caitlin Agnew
Lookbook images: © My Visions Boudoir / Model: Meara Oberdieck