Linen is known for being the oldest natural fiber still in use today made from the stalks of the flax plant Linum.
Linen is a much thicker fiber than cotton and it's intrinsic properties make it a superior, more durable fabric. It is commonly known as the world's strongest natural fiber (35% stronger than cotton). Linen therefore has a very long life-span.
From the flax plant, Linen is a bast fiber. Known to be crisper than cotton, linen becomes supple through handling. It gains elegance and softens to behold the most fluid drape. Though it is has more natural texture than cotton, it is silky with high luster. Both cotton and linen are associated with wrinkles. Linen fibers have a natural resin called lingnan. At first, the fibers are stiff and crease easily. The wrinkles become smoother through handling and use. For example, although a brand new cotton shirt will feel smoother and silkier to the touch, linen will be at its best some time after purchase. It tends to become softer and shinier with each wash, whereas cotton does the opposite.
Linen is highly breathable, soft and a natural insulator. It's fibers are hollow, moving air and moisture naturally. It is valued for its ability to keep cool in the summer months and trap warmth in colder weather. This is all achieved through the natural properties of the fiber itself.
Ancient Egyptians used linen for its natural ability to help repel microorganisms. Linen is known to be hypoallergenic, which means sweat is less likely to break down its fibers and has been known to be worn for those with allergies and to soothe skin conditions.
There is evidence to suggest that a linen manufacturing industry was in operation in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. When the tomb of the Pharaoh Ramses II who died in 1213 BC, was discovered in the late 19th century, the linen wrappings were in a state of perfect preservation after more than 3000 years.
Plutarch also wrote that linen was much prized amongst the ancient Roman priestly class. Eventually bed linen was coveted by the upper classes for its cool and soft feeling against the skin, becoming a mark of wealth and social standing. These days clothing constitutes only a very small percentage of linen manufacture – which makes a well sourced linen garnment all the more special an addition to your wardrobe.
Much like cashmere, the price of linen is elevated due to the laborious processes involved in its manufacture. Good quality linen is a very durable, strong and comfortable fabric. The fibres do not stretch, and are resistant to damage from abrasion and washes, and the colours do not fade away. The low elasticity of the fibres is what gives linen products that slight wrinkled look.
Some might ask - why is linen so expensive? To put it simply, manufacturing linen is a laborious and timely process, from harvesting in the fields to fabric construction on the factory floor. Add geographical limitations of where the linen producing flax plant will grow and the result is a more costly purchase than the more easily produced cotton fabric. However, the production of linen requires less water and fares better in terms of water toxicity. As a result, overall, the environmental impact of the linen (flax) garment is considered to be much lower than that of the cotton garment.
Above the Flax Plant in flower and ready for harvest.
The Love Linen logo has been created with our simplistic and earth friendly core values in mind. The motif is based on the flax flower in bud form, a symbol of growth, time and care taken in the process of producing linen fabric and our garments.
As linen is typically grown in the cooler countries of the world, the fibers that come from the flax plat are strong but the process of turning them into linen is difficult. This demonstrates the enduring popularity of linen. Cotton and other synthetic materials are cheaper and easier to make, but people still choose the quality that is only found in linen.