By Elena Picci
Everything you need to know about Linen and Organic Linen
Being a natural material, we tend to assume this material is sustainable.
But is it really? What should we look for when shopping for Linen clothes?
These days the weather is so hot you don’t know what to wear anymore. Linen clothes are the right fit for these warm and humid days.
As sustainability in fashion is becoming a necessity we cannot ignore anymore, it has also become common to see clothes made out of Linen.
But did you know this material is actually one of the first textiles used by our ancestora? According to an article on Science Magazine, Linen clothes could be 36,000 years old! One thing is sure, it was the favourite material of Egyptians (Independent).
Let’s get back to the basics but with a touch of colour!
We always assume this material is sustainable and in most cases it is. Let’s see together what makes this material a sustainable option today.
First thing first: What’s Linen?
Linen is a natural textile made from a plant called flax. Let’s have a deeper look at how it is made in order to know more about this eco-friendly material.
Here are the different steps in order to transform a plant into this lovely fibre.
#Plant seeds & Wait. This plant takes approximately 100 days to grow. No need to irrigate as rainwater is sufficient and no need to put any pesticides as it is a strong plant (Euronews).
#Pull out the stalks from the ground. When the plant turns yellow, it’s time to harvest. The stalks are removed from the ground without cutting it otherwise it affects the quality of the linen. Stalks are tied in bundles and ready for the next step.
#Immerse in water. This is called the retting process, which means putting the stalks and immerse them in water sometimes in the field itself. This process binds the fibres together. Chemical retting method exists as well in order to accelerate the binding but it is more toxic for the environment.
#Beat it. Once removed from the tank and completely dried. The stalks are ‘’beaten’’ and ‘’brushed’’ in order to separate flax fibres from the wood. and Breaks everything
And Ta-dah! Linen fibre is ready to be assembled with a wet spinning technique. No, not the spinning workout. The spinning technique is the machine used to prepare a filament yarn. Do you remember the spinning wheel in the Sleeping beauty? Yes, that’s what we’re talking about.
This is why you should love Linen clothes
It is one, if not the first textiles used to make clothes. If it has been used for so long there must be a reason. What makes this fabric so special?
Baby boy, make me lose my breath! Here’s why we can see clothes made of Linen in Egyptian paintings! Linen is a material that allows the skin to breathe and dries easily. Perfect for a climate that is warm and humid.
Some might complain that it is not elastic however this attribute is actually an asset. Clothes made out of linen will not lose their shape over time.
As seen in the transformation from the plant to the fibre, the flax plant does not require water to grow (The Guardian). This point makes this material even better than organic cotton in terms of sustainability (let’s remind ourself that a t-shirt made of cotton usually requires 2,700 litres of water).
Being a textile made from a plant, Linen is biodegradable and will actually decompose in compost (Vogue Business).
#Never goes out of Style
Linen can be used for different types of clothes. From panties to suits. Whatever the style you’re looking for, a linen solution will be waiting just for you. Are you more into long dresses? Look out Beaumont Organic. Goign back to the office in September and need an office look? Check Filippa K.
There’s no reason for not loving linen clothes. Unfortunately, this material became unpopular in recent years as cotton production was easier and cheaper (and maybe because it requires less ironing too).
Since Linen is already a sustainable material what is the difference with organic linen?
Linen is the most sustainable materials compare to other natural materials such as silk or cotton. But as we love to say ‘’Nobody’s perfect’. Linen is already a sustainable material and has all the potential to be treated and manufactured in a sustainable way. But the certification of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is a guarantee that it is made in a sustainable way following these points:
Linen can be grown without water, pesticides and chemicals however this does not exclude the fact that some people may use them. A certified organic linen item ensure that the growing process is pesticide-free.
One environmental concern regarding Linen is the chemicals used during the retting and grinding process. While the separation of the fibre from the woody materials was once done manually, today there are different chemicals such as Alkali and Oxalic that can help accelerate the process.
Linen has already some natural colours and does not need to be dyed. However, in the case of strong colours, the organic certification could ensure those are not toxic for the environment and your health
Textile fibres production, as well as agriculture, are industries that are notorious for their inhumane working conditions. Hopefully, as Linen can be produced everywhere, it is easier to find it locally. However, this does not guarantee workers are treated well. A certification such as GOTS or Fairtrade could ensure better conditions for the workers.
What to look for when shopping for Linen clothes?
Yes, sustainable certifications are never too much. Certifications such as the Global Organic Textile Standard, Oeko-Tex, Bluesign or Fair Trade could guarantee better conditions for the environment and/for the workers. Check out Fairtrade certified clothes made by Mayamiko
#Linen that feels like Linen
Sadly, chemicals are invisible to human eye and still not listed on the label.
Keep your guard up when the linen clothes in your hand promise to be wrinkle-free or stain-resistant as the only way would be to ‘’plastify’’ it. These treatments are done with toxic chemicals such as Formaldehyde and PFOA, which are toxic for the environment and for your health.
Grandma’s advice: For wrinkles no need to iron, just spray some water. Don’t worry linen dries quickly.
Linen has already its own colours. By choosing a piece of clothes of a natural linen colour you could avoid the used of dying chemicals. Natural linen includes Ivory, Oatmeal, Ecru and Taupe (The Guardian). No! not white! White as per cotton is achieved through bleaching. Which is not a problem if done is a responsible way.
Linen is one of the most sustainable materials for fashion out there and the most ancient. It may be easier to find on your holidays if you don’t have access to Renoon. If you did not leave for your summer holidays yet, you might want to find your perfect linen fit here!