Kiwi startup invests in hemp hats

Dane Watson loves headwear. But after questioning how brands make them ethically, he decided to launch his own range - and that's how Goodlids was born.

The 25-year-old's lightbulb moment came when he learned about hemp, a strain of cannabis grown specifically for products like clothing. 

"I ended up finding out about hemp and just being in awe of the power of the crop and really amazed at why it wasn't used commercially," he told Newshub.

Along with fellow hemp fashion brand Original Canvas, Watson has opened a pop-up shop in Auckland's Orakei Basin to sell products, but also to try and break down the negative stigma often linked to the material.

"You here the word 'cannabis clothing' or 'hemp' and you think of the recreational use, and there was a stigma around it for so many years and it was illegal to grow here in New Zealand, so no wonder people thought that," Original Canvas creative director Eden Sloss says. 

Hemp fibre production is going gangbusters globally, but the New Zealand market is still relatively small. Both Goodlids and Original Canvas source their material from China.

"I would love to be processing it here in New Zealand, that would be epic," Sloss told Newshub.

Watson, who's also juggling the hat business with a full-time job, says he's still learning lots about the hemp trade but he's loving every minute.

 "I didn't set out to make hemp hats - I just set out to make hats sustainably, whatever that looked like. I'm going a bit thin up top so that helps out as well."