Ever since I found a pair of Wayi bamboo underwear a few years ago, I've been all about sustainable underwear. Really, my whole sustainable clothing interest goes even further back – all the way to the time I tested the Tasc Performance line of bamboo workout clothes.
My underwear drawer also has its fair share of bamboo socks – and other random brands of bamboo underwear (including a few pairs I picked up at a market in Hanoi, which have a fit that's a bit more banana hammock than I'd prefer).
And now, Wama Underwear has emerged as another sustainable clothing brand. But instead of bamboo, this underwear maker focuses on hemp underwear. I am a huge fan of of hemp clothing: I've already abused hemp shirts from Onno and Satori. My go-to weekend pants are the unbelievable (and sadly discontinued) INI Cooperative Escargo pants.
Recently, Wama Underwear got in touch with me to send a few pairs of its boxer-briefs in for testing. They also threw in a cool little drawstring bag, which you can get free if you order a 10-pack of the briefs. The briefs are $24, but first-time shoppers will be prompted to get a 20 percent discount.
The price on the 10-pack is $200, and it's not clear if the 20-percent deal applies to that price. They're made from 53 percent hemp, with the remainder being organic cotton and Spandex.
They also come in versions for men and women.
Sustainable Clothing – Why Bother?
Before we go any further, let me tell you why I'm so nuts about sustainable clothing like hemp and bamboo. Both seem to get softer with time, and they are both awesome at resisting stink. This is doubly important if you travel and wind up wearing the same clothes for days at a time.
I once wore a hemp t-shirt for a course at the Aboriginal Living Skills School. Despite sweat, river water, hanging around a campfire and various other stuff, the shirt didn't stink at all after the course (I gave it a sniff once I got back to civilization and had a shower).
[UPDATE: The next few paragraphs are outdated because apparently US farmers now have the green light – no pun intended – to grow industrial hemp. Still, I’ll leave the paragraphs for context. It will be interesting to follow up on this in the future to see how many American crops have started planting hemp.]
Will wearing sustainable clothing save the planet? It's one small choice you can make. To make a bigger difference, it would help if US farmers could grow hemp. But they can't, as I summarized in an earlier post about hemp clothes:
They're unbelievably comfortable and seem to resist all my attempts to make them stink while hiking, camping or traveling. Unfortunately, the U.S. government still prohibits commercial hemp growth for the moment – I suspect this is ultimately because the cotton industry and its lobbyists can't handle the thought of any textile competing with its interests ... and I suspect the same people are behind the flat-out lies that equate hemp and marijuana (which is a subject for a different blogger to tackle). I wonder what the hemp farmers among our founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson would say about this.
Being able to source US-grown hemp would cut down on emissions from transit, which would help the sustainability cred of hemp. I can't say I'm an expert in farming, but I wonder what rotating hemp in as a crop would do for the soil. I also am unclear on its water needs versus cotton or other textile-producing crops. But that would be an interesting bit of information.
Oh, Wama has an FAQ page that dives into questions about ethical sourcing and certifications.
Getting the Right Size
The president of Wama, Shakib Nassiri, gave me some fitting advice that I'll pass along to you: The sizes seems to run a bit small. I'm 6'2 and about 185. He advised me to go a size larger than I normally would. So I ordered an XL instead of my usual L.
When the package from Wama Underwear arrived, I found that Shakib's advice was spot-on. The fit was perfect.
My first impression of the Wama Underwear was that the fabric had more heft than any of my bamboo underwear. They had a heavier weight that made me wonder if they would feel hotter or stiffer.
Nope. Once I put them on, they seemed to disappear. The fit was supportive without being annoying. Wama Underwear makes a product that is the polar opposite of some underwear that seems to have that one spot that pokes or feels to loose or itches.
Granted, I've worn and washed each pair just twice. It will take a few months of long-term flogging to render a definitive judgement. They'll need to perform through the hot Arizona months. From the first impressions, though, my bet is that I'll still like the Wama Underwear as much as I do right now.
Right off the mark, they fit considerably better than the Wayi brand I mentioned earlier, which doesn’t seem like a good choice for anyone familiar with squats or deadlifts! None of my undies from that brand gets the waist/thigh ratio right.
Rendering a Verdict
I wouldn't mind a few more colors, but I suspect that will come in time. Personally, I'd also ditch any green leaf iconography. Hemp already has the perception problem being linked to marijuana, so I'd recommend that sustainable clothing makers stay away from the leaf symbols.
But on pure merit, Wama Underwear has a sustainable clothing winner. It's a product that proves that sustainability doesn't mean sacrifice – it's better than any of the non-sustainable products I own. At this point, I recommend picking up some Wama Underwear if you needs some boxer-briefs.
They're comfortable, and they're a little something you can do to show your support for sustainable options. And that could be the catalyst that prompts more companies to offer greener, cleaner products. All of this can add up.
DISCLAIMER: Wama Underwear sent me two free pairs of boxer briefs and a drawstring bag. As usual, free stuff doesn’t equal positive reviews. I won’t recommend anything that I wouldn’t buy myself. And I always buy items that I recommend.Â
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