Proof of the earliest use of this malvaceous plant as a textile fiber has only recently been announced.
In 1972, a team of archaeologists from ISMEO - Institute for the Middle and Far East of the university of Rome, at a dig made at Shahr-l-Sokhta, in Persian Sistan, found a twine of kenaf dating back to the third millennium to 2400-2800 B.C. (Personal communication of Prof. Costantini - ISMEO - Rome). It is therefore a textile artefact.
In historical times, the first use of kenaf was by the populations of the Indian subcontinent that - due to the greater adaptability of the species in relation to jute - have always used it in the marginal areas of the monsoon basin of the Asian continent.

It was therefore in this area where from the second half of the 1700s many British researchers became interested in this species and its cultivation: this was both with tests of experimental comparison, such as those carried out in Madras from 1784 to 1815 by Sir William Roxburgh, and later on in Calcutta, in the gardens of the East India Company, and by describing its spread in the wild or under cultivation in the different parts of India by the local populations.

According to Dustan, as reported by Dempsey, kenaf fiber was first introduced into Europe on the London market in the early twentieth century (1901-1902) with the name of "Bimlipatam jute".
This name takes its origin from the village of Bimlipatam where - as reported in 1910 by the two Howard brothers, the first to classify kenaf in the five phenotypes nowadays known to all, - a spinning and manufacturing plant was located for making sacks with different fibers.
The first sack factory, which used solely kenaf fiber and which according to Dempsey stayed in operation until 1958, was located at Nellore.

Source: "Il kenaf, non solo una nuova materia prima cellulosica" - G. Mignoni