What is Linen?
Linen is an all-natural fibre made from the stalks of the flax plant. It has been used historically to make a wide array of products from bedsheets to kitchen textiles, summer outerwear, and undergarments. In fact, at one point, the material became so popular as a material that lightweight undergarments such as shirts, chemises, and lingerie became synonymous with the material they were made out of.
Linen is also considered to be one of the oldest textiles in the world, dating as far back as Ancient Egypt when mummies were found to have been wrapped and preserved in linen cloth. It was also valued so highly in ancient Egyptian society that on occasion, it was used as a form of currency. Since then, traces of linen has been discovered to have been used by the Mesopotamian higher classes, as well as in Ancient Greece, where the use was so prevalent that it had its own ideogram (“li-no”). Although it is considered to be an everyday product today, linen products were historically considered to be luxury products due to the fact that it was so difficult to manufacture.
There are many benefits to wearing linen. For one, it is a highly breathable fabric that allows the wearer to stay cooler in hot climates. This is because it is made from the stalk of the flax plant, and it can hold more structure than cotton (which is made from the soft flower part of the cotton plant). The structure allows the material to stand away from the body, instead of clinging onto it. It also has good interactivity with moisture, as it can absorb up to 20 percent of its weight in moisture before it begins to feel damp and heavy. The sturdiness of the flax fibre also allows linen to have a longer life span compared to cotton, which allows the wearer to wash and wear it for more than one season.
On top of all that, linen is versatile, and can be worn in a variety of different ways. Whereas cotton is widely considered to be a rather strictly “casual” material to wear, linen can be worn in both casual and more formal settings. Some examples of linen formalwear include linen suits, blazers, shirts, and blouses. For all these reasons, linen is quickly gaining popularity as a sustainable material that can replace less sustainable cotton products.
How We’re Using Linen
After 5 years, we’ve finally added linen to our range with the Midi Shirt Dress + Cave 17 Midnight. Something that we wanted to be mindful of when using linen was to avoid the starchy, scratchy feeling that is typical of the material. In order to make for wearing and to allow it to feel lighter on the skin from the get-go, we’ve soaked the fabric in softener for an hour and pre-washed once to soften it. And because of the nature of the fibre, it’ll only soften with every wear.