Linen is made from the fibres of the flax plant. More than 80% of the world production of flax is grown in Europe. Although the plants don't look similar, flax or linen is often compared with hemp. The fibres are comparable in strength but linen can be processed to fine yarns more easily. The finest linen yarns produce nice, shiny fabrics that are sometimes referred to as 'European silk'.
Linen is made from the flax plant (Linum Usitatissimum) and is one of the oldest fibres used for textile production. Flax and linen has been known in civilized societies for thousands of years and was already used by the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Phoenicians (4000-5000 BC). The value of flax for mankind is underscored by it’s Latin name, which translates as ‘most useful linen’. Especially during the Middle Ages, before cotton became a mass product and conquered the European markets, linen was one of the most used and popular natural fibres. To this day it remains a highly valued natural product that is applied in fashion, interior design but because of it’s strength also in bio-composites.
Linen yarns and fabrics are very suitable for apparel. The fibre has specific properties which distinguish it sharply from most other materials and make it unique.
Linen doesn’t enclose much air and has relatively poor insulation properties. That’s why linen fabrics feel fresh and cool, a distinct advantage for summer clothing. In addion linen is highly absorbent. It takes up water rapidly and also releases it quickly. On hot days this helps in regulating the microclimate between body and clothing.
Linen (sometimes called ‘European silk’) is well supported when worn directly on the skin even though it is stiffer, harder and less elastic than cotton and is therefore less supple. These properties also cause the crinkling of linen, when used in woven fabrics, although this property may also be considered as part of the ‘natural charm’ of linen.
Linen is considered to be one of the most sustainable textiles known. The flax plant doesn’t require irrigation during growth and even when it is grown conventionally it needs little or no treatment with herbicides or pesticides. Linen is a natural product, it is 100% biodegradable and recyclable and feels very nice on the skin.
All the linen fabrics in the collection of Ecological Textiles meet our high ecological standards for finishing. Even when the fabrics are not GOTS-certified only water-based dyes that comply with the European REACH standard have been used, and bleaches are oxygen-based.
Today, flax is also very much a ‘European’ plant in the sense that France and Belgium are the leading flax producting countries in the world. These countries, to which the Netherlands may be added, can bow on a centuries old tradition which was made possible by ideal climatic conditions and soils. More than 80% of the world production is European, with nearly 75.000 acres under cultivation annually.
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