Discover Ramie: One of the World’s Oldest Vegetable Fibres
In Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale “The Wild Swans,” a princess works day and night to remove a witch’s curse that turned her brothers into swans. In order to save them, she is forced to weave shirts for all eleven brothers out of stinging nettle leaves. Her fingers bleed and ache from the process, but in true fairytale fashion, she miraculously completes the task at the final moment.
Making fabric from stinging nettles may seem like a random choice for dramatic effect, but it may have been inspired by an almost-forgotten, linen-like fabric made from the ramie plant (of the nettle family).
Though barely known in North America, the natural fabric of ramie, derived from the ramie plant, has a history that dates back thousands of years in East Asia. Ramie’s high absorbency and lightweight open weave makes it extremely breathable in hot humid climates, while the fibre’s inherent stiffness makes it one of the strongest natural fabrics even when wet.
Like linen, ramie is prone to creasing, but it resists shrinkage and inhibits growth of mildew and bacteria, keeping clothing fresh and odour-free.
Our favourite ways to wear ramie? Think long, flowy dresses, perfect for anywhere from the garden to the beach; easy tops; or even palazzo-like trousers—all in organic palettes of pure whites, blues, and muted earth tones.