Natural Materials: Linen

Continuing with our Natural Materials series, this time we'll talk about linen, which has the reputation of being the world's strongest fiber and is praised by environmentalists.

Linen is a natural fiber that is made from flax; all parts of the flax plant are utilized to create a variety of products such as textiles, oils, paint, insulating materials and food. Producing linen fabric is a long process that requires many skills and also time to let the fibers soften.

France is the world leader in linen production, in fact, this fabric used to be reserved only for the European elite, until the 16th century, when flax cultivation became popular, thus making linen more accessible as a fabric. Around the 18th century, cotton became a more cost-effective alternative to linen and displaced it as the most utilized fabric. This was driven by plantations in the US, which we know were manned by slaves.

According to the European Confederation of Linen and Hemp, “Across its life-cycle, a linen shirt uses 6.4 litres of water” compared to 2,700 litres for a cotton shirt. We've all heard horror stories surrounding cotton manufacturing and the vast amount of resources needed to grow it. Linen is certainly a more eco-friendly alternative, but as with everything, deep research is required to ensure our new purchases don't damage the environment. A good practice is to check if a garment is made with GOTS certified fabrics. 

Most literature we've found on linen highlights its insulation and hypoallergenic properties, like wool (even if it seems counter-intuitive), linen should be great at keeping you warm during winter and cool during summer. Personally, we haven't found it to be warm when used in apparel, however, socks containing linen have proven successful on cooler days. Linen socks tend to be better at absorbing moisture when compared to wool socks, and like wool, linen becomes softer with every wash.

Linen is somewhat easy to care for, it is machine washable and depending on the label, you could use a dryer, when cared for properly, linen garments can last many years. Its naturally crinkled appearance is certainly divisive, it wrinkles so easily!

Some say wrinkles add to the natural beauty of this fabric and it shouldn't be ironed. While we love a crisp look, we couldn't agree more. Life is too short and there are so many wonderful things to experience that ironing and steaming seem like a waste of time. Depending on the linen garment, one can get away without ironing it and still looking presentable.

Overall we think linen is a great fabric and it's add to the argument that natural is better when it comes to apparel choices. We encourage you to consider buying vintage linen items and mending your existing linen ones to extend their durability.

Do you like linen? What is your favorite fabric for your wardrobe staples? Where do you stand on ironing? 

We'd love to hear your thoughts, drop our team a line at


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