THE HEMP ON TOAST STORY
Hemp On Toast clothes have their beginnings in a student kitchen in 2015 when Ilona, their creator, started experimenting with natural dyes in cooking pots on the hob. The hemp fabrics she experimented with were then sewn in her bedroom, where she also constructed and cut the very first Hemp On Toast patterns. A few years – and grumbles from fellow flatmates about the smells in the kitchen – on, Ilona continues to produce hemp clothes, now based in her studio in Norwich.
From the outset, the aim was to inspire a wardrobe of fewer clothes but one that reflects respect and care for the world. Each garment is designed on the principles of simplicity and versatility.
Ilona also provides workshops on natural dyes. If you would like to book a workshop at your venue please get in touch
Each item of clothing is intended to become like a second skin. The organic hemp and cotton blends used are strong and breathable. Hemp is naturally antibacterial as well as thermodynamic, making it feel warm when it’s cool and cool when it’s warm.
All Hemp On Toast fibres are organic, meaning no harmful herbicides or pesticides used in their production. Hemp uses 20% of the amount of water needed to grow the average cotton crop. With ever increasing demands on fresh water reserves globally, this makes hemp not just an environmentally friendly choice but a social one too.
Hemp On Toast operates on zero waste principle in all areas. Off cuts of fabric from production are either composted or re-purposed into other garments and accessories. Each garment also comes with a free mending and repair service, encouraging users to think again before disposing of an item.
All Hemp On Toast colours come straight from nature. Colour is everywhere, and transferring it onto our clothing is what I am passionate about. The range of Hemp On Toast clothes are all dyed using a carefully chosen selection of natural dyes, picked for their uniqueness and durability.
Core dyes are listed below but I am also continuously exploring all the thousands of other plants that are out there and documenting the experiments. If you're feeling a creative urge to co-create something unique for yourself in hemp, check out the news page for inspiration.
Sourcing onion skins is a community effort! I go to Norwich Market every Monday morning to pick up onion skins from the lovely Ana at Cocina Mia. As well as that there are a host of dedicated onion skin collectors – friends and family scattered around Norwich and the country.
Onion skins produce golden-peachy shades when used purely, and when combined with rust, they turn a beautiful shade of green.
Another unique community effort: part of Hemp On Toast is the conversations and friendships that begin through efforts to collect waste plant sources like discarded pomegranate skins. There’s a growing number of pomegranate skin collectors in Norwich. Once collected, these are dried and stored for producing three colours: sunshine yellow, khaki greens and slate grey.
Soft grey-brown shades, created by combining the fleshy outer shells of walnuts with rust.
Take a walk along The Avenues in the summer in the shade of these elegant trees. Or spot me collecting the walnuts on a cold autumn day.