Founded by Ally Ferguson in 2014, and debuted in 2016, it offers a contemporary, sustainable, low-impact wardrobe for the modern, conscious consumer. Celebrities including Billie Eilish, Jameela Jamil, and Charlize Theron are fans of the Sinsemilla streetwear brand built on thoughtful designs and timeless silhouettes.
the name Researcher is a nod to the fashion line’s stated ethos of evolving to be better than we were, of knowing more, of exposing people to another way of thinking—and of being comfortable with your own evolution.
Ferguson first noticed hemp fabric being used as backpacks and baggy pants at hippie head factories and flea markets. I immediately recognized the potential of the fabric and wondered how to get it out of the “super hippie mentality and bring it up to more consumers.” This opportunity would present itself while she was consulting for a luxury fashion brand. With words like “organic cotton” and “small batch” entering the lexicon, these natural fabrics have come to be described as high-quality options. Ferguson saw the public’s growing interest in this new direction. Fortunately, on a trip to a drapery show, I discovered a company that sells tarps. The salesman told her it was suitable for making backpacks, but when Ferguson turned her mind back to the old burlap sacks, she had second thoughts about the fabric that was affordable, durable, and friendly to the planet.
Contrary to popular belief, hemp is luxurious and only gets softer and more comfortable over time. Ferguson decided to make yoga pants and a jacket, dyeing them in rich, luxurious colors. And while at first they resembled those burlap sacks she remembers, the longer she wore the pants, the better they looked and felt. Ferguson was initially “a little shy about wearing them because I looked at them and thought, ‘Oh, they look like hippie backpacks,'” she recalls.
Soon, she began receiving praise for her creations. Instinctively knowing she was on to something, Ferguson developed new silhouettes and colors. As she worked with hemp, the clothes began to take their own shape.
The fashion industry is one of the world’s worst polluters and accounts for up to ten percent of global carbon dioxide production. It is also one of the most water consuming industries. Since 2020, the industry has used more than 79 trillion liters of water annually to make clothing. In contrast, hemp is the most sustainable and environmentally friendly fabric available. When growing, the hemp plant requires less water than cotton and is naturally resistant to most insects and diseases, eliminating the need for toxic pesticides. The hemp plant also regenerates and purifies the soil and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere into the soil, which helps combat climate change. Hemp fabric is naturally antibacterial, odor resistant, and breathable. The tensile strength of hemp is eight times that of cotton fiber; Historically, hemp was used in the sails and ropes of British and American navies.
Ferguson stresses that sustainability is a core pillar of the Seeker brand. All garments are made in a B-Corp certified Los Angeles factory that is solar powered, gray water powered and uses low impact dyes. The fabrics are organic hemp or organic cotton, the latter being sewn five blocks from the factory. Ferguson also plans to create accessories that feature alternative skins such as pineapple and mushroom. “I want to make a shopping bag out of vegan leather because it’s very durable and looks great. And I think it would wear really nicely,” she says.
Ferguson was selected to appear in the second season of making the pieces (Amazon Prime) Starring Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn (both ex escape project), which saw it as an excellent opportunity to inspire young designers around the world with sustainable design and influence the common good.
“It was exciting to be on the show as a sustainable brand; while they were pushing sustainability, they were also very knowledgeable about the Amazon customer,” says Ferguson. “They want to open the way for sustainability, but they don’t walk the streets for climate change. It’s happening making the pieces And designer hemp unisex clothing was something new to them. They dumped me for being crunchy, gay, organic and from California – I’m that person. But I think that’s an advantage and an angle that they wanted to give the world. And that was a huge gain for sustainability.”
Ferguson says she believes hemp fashion is just getting started and predicts we’ll be seeing more avant-garde hemp designs on the runway soon.
“From my experience making pieces, I’m seeing people gravitate towards fashion that’s universal — uniforms — but totally sustainable and good for the planet,” she said. “I want to see people take their things after they’ve finished wearing them and put them in green rolls because they’re biodegradable. By just wearing something throughout its life, people can bring it back to Earth.”
Seems like a fair and neat deal.
This story was originally published in Issue 47 printed edition of hemp now.