Discover why we love this soft and breathable natural fabric, made from a plant in the nettle family.
At Seasalt, we’re fans of natural fabrics. Since introducing it in our collections, ramie has become one of our favourites. A softly textured canvas for our palette of Cornish colours, it lends itself to uncomplicated, easy-fitting styles. Like linen, it also has great sustainability credentials.
Ramie is a natural, plant-derived fabric
It is made from a perennial in the nettle family, Boehmeria nivea, which doesn’t need a lot of water to thrive and enhances the quality of the soil for future crops. Native to Asia and more commonly used for making fabric in countries like Japan, India and China, the yarns have been used for over 6,000 years. A folk tale describing a princess whose brothers have been turned into swans tells how the spell can be broken if she weaves them shirts from nettles. It sounds like a prickly, impossible task but in fact, the ramie plant doesn’t sting like our British nettles.
Similar to linen, ramie is a bast fibre, which means the filaments used to make yarn come from the inner bark of plant stems. It is one of the strongest natural fibres often used for heavy duty sewing threads, fishing nets and packing materials as well as upholstery and paper making.
Ramie and cotton: a natural match
We like to blend ramie with cotton. This helps make clothes breathable, absorbent and soft to the touch. Just like linen, these pieces will soften 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, enhancing the rich colours and simple silhouettes of our ramie pieces. Clothes made from our ramie-cotton blend are also more resistant to creasing than linen, so it’s perfect for holiday packing.
Garment-dyed for soft Cornish colour
Ramie and cotton-ramie blends also dye beautifully. We use a process called garment-dying, which means garments are made first then dyed as a finished piece. This creates a characteristic sun-kissed, worn-in colour with nuanced tones.