ARTIST INTERVIEW: Robert Jungmann of Jungmaven
Artist: Robert Jungmann
We are thrilled to announce that Jungmaven will be joining the Fair for the first time this season and will be found at the EPCF Connection.
JUNGMAVEN WAS BORN OUT OF ACTIVISM.
As a student at Central Washington University, Robert Jungmann frequently camped in the Pacific Northwest woods and saw firsthand the damage caused by clear cutting. In the classroom, he learned that industrial hemp could combat deforestation.
Trees, cut to make paper and other products, take decades to grow back. Hemp regenerates in months, helps maintain clean water and air, anchors and aerates the soil, produces oxygen, and consumes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
From that awareness, Rob asked himself, how could he bring hemp to everybody? It had to be simple and personal, something that everyone needs – a t-shirt.
Rob built Jungmaven with simplicity and sustainability at its core. Their 100% Hemp Tee and the Baja Tee arose from this ethos. Both are sewn in the USA, structured yet relaxed, breathable, soft and go with anything. Jungmaven is sold globally, stocked in boutiques across North America, Europe and Asia.
In 2010, Rob launched HEMP 2020, a campaign to raise awareness around the positive environmental impacts of hemp farming. The potential hemp holds to mitigate climate change is one of the greatest opportunities of our generation.
Tell us about your current work and how that work has evolved since you first started your business?
In the 1990’s I tried to make everything under the sun with hemp (coffee filter, men’s and women’s clothing, golf bags, skateboards). You name it and we probably tried to make it with hemp in an effort to show the many opportunities that were possible with this amazing plant. Today, our approach is a bit more refined. We keep it simple and try to always have a good selection of core styles such as tees, sweatshirts, shorts, jackets and a few more pieces for variety. This helps us achieve our main goal of getting hemp legal and hemp growing in the USA again. On Dec. 20th, 2018 with the signing of the Farm Bill, hemp was finally legalized. The signing of the Farm Bill was a huge (necessary) step to encourage American Farmers to begin growing hemp again. We hope to expand the market so that someday soon when you hear the word tee or t-shirt you think of hemp and not cotton.
How does being a part of the EPCF community inspire you?
Sharing ideas and dreams and being immersed amongst the good people brought together by EPCF is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves.
Are there other communities that have been instrumental in the development of your creative work?
Jungmaven is mainly inspired by a lifestyle fed on adventure and travel between Mal Pais, Costa Rica, New York City, Washington State, Los Angeles and everywhere in between. The experiences I have had, made up by the kindest people, the most delicious food, the grandest mountains and bluest perfect surf peppered with music festivals and more are the secret ingredients that make up Jungmaven.
What techniques do you use to produce your designs? What is the history behind those techniques, and does that inform how you use them?
Our main ingredient is the ancient textile – hemp. We’ve been working 26 years on improving the quality, texture and colors of hemp so that more people can enjoy it. Because hemp has been illegal to grow in the USA, it has limited our abilities to be creative with it. Now that hemp is legal to grow again in the states it will be exciting to see American ingenuity begin to play a role in the fiber.
The ethics of production are on our minds a lot recently – questions of sustainability, fair labor, location, and artistic integrity. How do these concepts come in to play in your craft and your business? What choices do you make that take into account these ideas?
We make everything in Los Angeles with a textile that’s so good for the environment simply growing it is a low cost, CO2 gobbling, solar energy driven cleanup technique. I meet with the fabric suppliers, cutting house, factories and the dye house every week and in that process I try to only make things that I like.
There is no packaging on the garments. Our tees last a long time and just get better with age so less is more. One of the best things you can do for the planet is to make high-quality garments that last forever and we are inspired by that notion. We only use organic cotton and, of course, hemp. Many of our team members work from home or have a short commute if any.
We are also working on using more recycled cardboard boxes and aligning with more companies trying to do good for the planet. We said goodbye to FEDEX and ULINE because of their unwillingness to get involved in better addressing our environmental challenges. We eliminated single use plastic and all labels and tagging of products in 2001, but we are always working to streamline waste and to utilize our scraps for more up-cycling.
What impact do you hope your creative work will have on your community?
I look at the whole earth as my community. I hope Jungmaven helps bring a healthier future to all.