Fabric Stories: Introducing Ramie

Discover our soft and breathable new natural fabric made from a plant in the nettle family.

At Seasalt we are constantly exploring new textures and qualities of cloth to make each new collection different and interesting to wear. We love natural fabrics, and as ramie lends itself to similarly uncomplicated and easy-fitting pieces to linen, which has always been one of our favourites, ramie felt like the obvious next step for some of our latest styles.

ramie blend top and culottes

Trewan Hall Top and Breaking Waves Culottes in Seasalt’s ramie-cotton blend at Charleston, East Sussex

Ramie is a natural plant-based fabric

It is made from a plant in the nettle family, Boehmeria nivea. It is a perennial plant native to Asia, and is more commonly used for making fabric in countries like Japan, India and China. The leaves of the ramie nettle are also used in Vietnamese cookery to make a fragrant, green rice cake. The plants don’t need a lot of water or pesticides to grow quickly and successfully. They also don’t sting like our British stinging nettles.

Like linen, ramie is a bast fibre, which means the fibres used to make yarn come from the inner bark of the plant stems. It is one of the oldest used for fabric, and had been used for over 6,000 years. A folk tale describing a princess whose brothers have been turned to swans tells how the spell can be broken if she weaves them shirts from nettles, which sounds like an impossible – and prickly! – task until you consider ramie. It is also one of the strongest natural fibres, often used for heavy duty sewing threads, fishing nets and packing materials as well as upholstery, paper making, and even in bioplastics.

We’ve blended ramie with cotton for some of our new pieces

This helps make the clothes breathable, absorbent and softer to the touch.

They are also garment-dyed, which means they are made first then dyed as a finished piece. This gives a characteristic washed and worn-in colour with nuanced tones, rather than the flat colour of a style constructed from pre-dyed fabric. These pieces will soften further with age, getting better the more you wear them.

Ramie doesn’t shrink, and slubs in the yarn give the weave a distinctive cross-hatch texture, great for elevating the look of your outfit while keeping the simplicity of a plain block of colour.

Our ramie-blend fabric is more resistant to creasing than pure linen, making it perfect for holiday packing.

Pair with your favourite Seasalt prints, or try a co-ordinated look with our matching Trewan Hall Top and Breaking Waves Culottes. We’d love to see you style your new ramie-blend pieces so don’t forget to show us how you’re #wearingseasalt.

ramie-cotton culottes

Seasalt’s ramie-cotton blend Breaking Waves Culottes on location at Charleston, East Sussex