China's hemp shoes catch on internationally

April 13, 2013 at 1:11 PM
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LANZHOU, China, April 13 (UPI) -- A Chinese clothing designer says some tweaks and updates have made traditional shoes made of hemp a hot-selling item on the international market.

China's Gansu Province has been a hemp hotbed for generations of growers, and the shoes crafted from the plant, a close cousin of marijuana, are catching on among hipsters worldwide , China's official Xinhua news agency reported Saturday.

"The old-style hemp shoes don't match today's clothes, so we try to combine traditional craftsmanship with modern design," Wang Yingwu, manager of a shoe workshop in Gansu told Xinhua.

"My shoes look the same as the fashionable ones in big stores," Wang said. "The only difference is that mine are made of hemp."

Wang enlisted a trio of footwear designers from Europe and Japan to work on the designs. The result was the production of 2 million pair of hemp shoes, the vast majority of which have gone overseas.

Wang told Xinhua the next goal was increasing sales in the domestic Chinese market.

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