Linen - The Summer King
Most of the apparel brands come out with a very attractive looking Linen Collection every summer. We all know about Linen being a premium fabric as compared to cotton, both in terms of comfort and cost. Let’s find out a bit more about this cool fabric.
Linen is a fabric produced from the Flax plant. There are two broad varieties of Flax. The fibres of the taller flax plant are used to make linen. There is a shorter flax plant that uses the flax seeds for flaxseed and linseed oil.
Linen textiles are one of the oldest in the world with its origins in Europe. With the invention of the Cotton gin in the 18th Century, Flax production began to decline. As cotton production became cheaper and easier, the central role that linen used to hold within Europe’s textile economy gradually diminished.
Flax can grow in a variety of climates, but it flourishes in cool, damp environments. It cannot tolerate extreme heat. Flax requires less water and very less pesticides. Because it requires a lot of organic components, flax grows best in deep loams and alluvial soils. Flax is easy to incorporate into modern crop rotation cycles, preventing soil depletion.
France is the leading country producing 76% of the total fibre flax. Europe contributes to more than 90% of flax production.
Characteristics of Linen
Garments made of linen are desirable in hot and humid climates. Unlike cotton, which tends to retain moisture for a significant period of time, linen dries quickly, which helps reduce heat retention in overly warm conditions. So, it is perfect for most Indian conditions.
It is smooth and the finished fabric is lint-free. It has a very high tensile strength (very strong). The fabric becomes softer on repeated washing. Care for linen is easy – it resists dirt and stains. It can be machine washed, dry cleaned or steamed. Although, you should not use the tumble dry function for drying. It can withstand high temperatures without shrinkage.
Linen can degrade in a few weeks when buried in soil. It’s more biodegradable and durable than cotton.
Due to its low elasticity, Linen has a tendency to wrinkle. It thus requires ironing often and is not used as much in formal clothing. Although, these wrinkles are sometimes what makes Linen a charming wear for few.
Linen has been used in Garments, Home Furnishings (bed linen, upholstery) and Bath linen.
A Costly affair
Linen has become a product which is produced in small quantities. Manufacturing linen is much more time and resource-intensive than making cotton. This has made cotton the most popular natural fibre in the last couple of centuries.Fast fashion uses fabrics like Cotton and Polyester because they are available cheaply. Hence, the demand for linen is very low.
All these reasons have contributed in making Linen an expensive fabric.
So ready to be a part of the “Linen Club”?
We hope that after reading this article, Linen garments would be on your wishlist. If it already is, you have benefitted the environment as Linen is one of the most sustainable fabrics available.
 Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations