A Thami villager named Devi strips a Himalayan nettle stalk in Dolakha, Nepal. Credit: Ellie Skeele
In the foothills of Nepal's Himalayas, the Himalayan stinging nettle plants grows naturally in the wild. Ellie Skeele, founder of Himalayan Wild Fibers, is in the process of developing the nettle fiber industry with the local community. According to the Center for Sustainable Fashion, Himalayan nettle is the longest fiber currently known to humankind and is considered finer, stronger, and more elastic than linen. The development of this fiber would create work and income for many Nepalis and bring a durable and sustainable textile to market. More:
One ton of Himalayan nettle bark ribbons in front of the Himalayan Wild Fibers office. Image via Himalayan Wild Fibers
The Himalayan nettle plants hold soil in place and help prevent landslides and erosion. They are grown without chemical fertilizers but with regular cutting of the stocks, according to Himalayan Wild Fibers. Most recently, Ellie Skeele and her team explored the possibilities of working with Thami villagers, an indigenous group of Nepal, in collecting nettle from their forests.
En route to the village; Gauri Shankar in the distance. Credit: Ellie Skeele
Nettle grows in the wild in Dolakha. Credit: Ellie Skeele
Currently, Himalayan Wild Fibers is seeking a designer to spin different blends of Himalayan nettle with other fabrics. An example of what wild nettle looks like as a finished garment, below.
An exampled of nettle fabric used in a tailored skirt by n.a.f Organic Clothing. Credit: All Eco