If you’ve been hearing about the comeback of linen but are not sure what the textile is or why it has had a resurgence in popularity, we’ve got some answers for you. We've also got tips on what to look out for when finding the best quality linen.
Linen is a sustainable fabric made from fibres of the flax plant. These plants are cut or pulled up from the ground, the plant stock is removed, it is then spun into yarn, and then eventually woven into fabric. Most commonly, linen is made into curtains, tablecloths, bedsheets, tea towels, rugs, and various clothing items.
A large part of the materials popularity comeback has to do with societies growing appreciation for natural and sustainable materials and linens environmentally friendly, biodegradable properties. The flax plant requires minimal water and does not require chemical mediums to generate a harvest. There are also no dangerous chemicals required to turn the flax seeds into linen fabric, so it’s fair to say it’s an eco-friendly material. Linen is a strong fibre so products made from the material will last a long time and won’t need regular replacements. This, along with the fact that linen is biodegradable, has helped maintain its high sustainability status.
An interesting fact about linen is that it’s one of the oldest materials ever known. There are remains of linen that date back to 8000BC and it was once so valued that it was used as a form of currency. Linen was also used in Egypt to wrap the bodies of mummies, in Greece to make battle armour, and in Japan to make their traditional smocks. Linen that is well cared for can last up to three decades, and is part of inheritance tradition in many cultures around the world.
‘Linen’ is often referred to as bed coverings or home cloths, and the cupboard where these items are stored is generally called a ‘linen cupboard’. The reason for this also dates back many years ago, as these household items were traditionally made from pure linen due to their breathable and fast-drying qualities. The name has stayed the same, however the material makeup of most bed coverings and home cloths have changed due to shifts in cultural trends. The word linen refers to the specific type of material made from the flax plant, and no longer has a close relation to the place in which homeware products are stored.
If you are looking to introduce genuine linen into your wardrobe and lifestyle, it is important to know what you’re looking for and take the time to look at labels to ensure the products you’re purchasing are 100% pure flax linen. Many items offer a cheap ‘linen blend’ alternative which can be a mix of linen with polyester and cotton. These are much less sustainable materials and aren’t eco-friendly.
For information on how to take care of and how to wash your linen products so they last a lifetime.