Lightweight, crisp and cool, linen has long been regarded as a favourite fabric of the warm summer months. Recently, however, the naturally-derived fabrication has also risen in popularity due to its sustainable credentials – it’s made from the flax plant which relies solely on rainfall, is grown without the use of GMOs and produces zero waste. Join us as we show our support for the ‘I Love Linen’ campaign (24th April – 26th May 2019) – a UK-wide celebration of Europe’s most sustainable, innovative and local fabric – in our exclusive Q&A with Marie-Emmanuelle Belzung, Director of The European Confederation of Linen and Hemp (CELC).
How did the ‘I Love Linen’ campaign come about?
Linen is generating so much excitement as a beautiful and natural fabric. We wanted to share that it’s kind to our skin and to the planet, it’s a pleasure to wear and easy to care for. It has so many surprising uses too – look out for it knitted into t-shirts, giving them a crisp, cool feel and a beautiful texture.
What makes linen so special?
Did you know that linen comes from a plant, flax, and that flax fibre is produced in northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands? Linen is thermo-regulating and helps you keep cool in summer and warm in winter. Linen makes the best sheets to sleep in as they are naturally hypoallergenic. Linen is strong and improves with age.
What sustainable credentials does linen have?
First, it’s local. Flax only needs rain water to grow and doesn’t need additional water on its journey to become a fibre. Plus, all parts of the plant can be used so there’s no waste. As it is entirely natural, it can biodegrade at the end of a long life.
How is linen made?
The flax plant takes three months to grow. The crops are harvested and laid in the fields in the open air and during this time, they take on a rich golden colour. After separating and combing the fibres into hanks that resemble blonde hair, it goes to the spinners where they are blended (mixing flax from different fields for optimal quality, similar to the way in which different harvests are blended to make champagne and cognac) before they become yarn. Then it can be woven or knitted into many different fabrics or blended with eco-plastics to become, for instance, parts for a car or stereo.
What are the key differences between linen and cotton?
Linen is sourced from the flax plant which likes the soft European climate – you can see the blue flowering fields from the Eurostar as you enter France. Linen breathes and wicks moisture. Linen moulds to the body and with age, it only gets more beautiful.
What’s the best way to care for linen?
Linen is tough stuff! You can wash it without any worry, shape it as it dries, and you can wear it off the washing line. A hot iron is good if you prefer a clean line – it’s easy and you get the best results ironing when still damp or with a wet cloth between the iron and the garment.
How do you keep linen from creasing when you wear it?
Linen blends or knitted linen give us clothes that do not really crease. But for the iconic linen items like the summer shirt, I say: love linen’s creases. They enrich a garment with personality and character. Creases are beautiful!
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