What are the first thoughts that spring to mind when you think of linen clothing?
If you are anything like me, you will probably have images of crinkled white suits, smock dresses and other holiday classics flashing through your mind, but linen is so much more than that.
In fact, while being one of the highest ranked fibres around, it also adds a great dose of unpolished style to any collection with its natural slub texture, matt/shine look and papery hand feel. At VILDNIS, we use it to sass up our essentials collection with semi-sheer open-knit jumpers and textured lightweight T-shirts and tops with a beautiful drape.
For those of you unfamiliar with the fibre, linen stems from the flax plant and is, like cotton, grown in fields and used for textile production.
In its non-organic form, linen can grow with minimal fertilisers and pesticides and is therefore categorised as class C in Made-by.org’s environmental benchmark of fabrics. The scale goes from A-E, with A being the most sustainable fibres and this is where we find organic linen, which is grown entirely without synthetic fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides.
Apart from this, what else makes organic linen sustainable?
To start, linen can grow with rainwater only and needs no additional irrigation. Compared to cotton, which needs vast amounts of water to grow, this is a huge plus. Add to this that the flax plant isn’t genetically modified, that the entire plant is used in production (= zero waste) and that the fibre extraction is done mechanically, and it is easy to see why this fibre is good for the environment.
According to ‘Masters of Linen’, an organisation overseeing the linen production in Europe, around 80% of the world’s production of flax fibres (linen) is taking place in Western Europe due to its damp climate and rich soil.
The organic linen used in VILDNIS’ collection is grown in rural France by farmers who are part of a cooperative with 10.000 farmers in total (CELC) and provides employment to people in areas where jobs are otherwise sparse. Hence it is a fibre with a positive social impact too.
Overall, there are lots of reasons to wear organic linen (I am sure it is better for our health too, although I can offer nothing to support this statement other than a gut feeling) seen from an environmental, social and styling point.
But the goodness doesn’t stop here because there is a reason why linen has become a favourite in summer holiday wardrobes worldwide; it has a natural ability to regulate your body temperature and manage moisture (it can absorb up to 20% of its own weight without feeling damp to the touch), keeping you cool in warm climates.
And then, of course, there are the obvious superpowers such as high strength, durability and hypoallergenic which is the reason why the fibre is also popular to use in bedlinen (see, it even got its name from it), tea towels etc.
With such fantastic credentials and properties, why is it that linen only counts for less than 1% of all textile fibres consumed worldwide? We would love to see more fashion made from linen or linen blends, and we will definitely do our bit to make that happen!