This week in the journal, we focus on linen. Its great eco-credentials have boosted this fabric to the top of everyone's hotlist.
Written by Jenny Garcia.
Made from the fibres of the planet friendly flax plant, linen has the most fabulous eco credentials (most of the flax plant is used, therefore less waste and less water, needs little to no irrigation, requires less pesticides) and is also one of the oldest textiles in world dating back over 30,000 years. Its popularity lying in its strength, absorbency, comfort and quick drying abilities.
Sadly however, it has long had a bit of a marmite effect on consumers. Commonly perceived as an ‘alternative’ fabric, popular among those with a more bohemian, hippy persuasion. But, as sustainability has crept to the top of brands, designers and increasingly consumers priority lists, fabrics with high eco-credentials, such as linen, have been pushed into fashions number one position of a ‘must have’. We at Maze hope and believe this will not be a fleeting trend, but rather linen will maintain its new position as fashion‘s top dog for time immemorial.
As we all get used to wearing this kind and generous fabric more often, we thought it might be useful to understand a little more about it and how to care for it. Historically it’s been thought of as something we only wear in the warmer months, but like all fabrics it can be produced in different weights and finishes making it extremely versatile and suitable all year round. It’s 100% natural, so will biodegrade and be kinder to your skin. One of the perceived problems with linen is it’s love of creasing and has therefore suffered for many many years with a reputation as a rather scruffy untidy choice, but unlike cotton which creases in big sharp random angry lines when folded or sat upon, linen tends to rumple rather pleasingly, giving an overall tumbled soft loved and lived in look, a far cry from it’s untidy rep. Creasing will vary depending on the linen quality and garment type of course, but in general this attribute is now widely accepted as one of its many charms. It's fast drying ability makes it perfect for line or rack drying, thus avoiding the negative impacts of the power greedy, shrink happy tumble dryer.
When it comes to ironing, that’s really about personal choice and garment type. Ironing can leave a sheen on some linens so try ironing inside out or cover with a lightweight tea towel and iron over that or try steaming with the Steamery Cirrus No.3 Iron Steamer. It’s also good to iron it whilst it’s a little damp, really helps to get a smoother finish. You can then either go straight to wear or do your own pre-creasing by completely scrunching your garment until you’ve achieved the naturally lived in look.
Always check the labels for care instructions, but in general it’s safe to assume a natural fibre likes to be treated kindly and with natural products. As it’s washed linen relaxes becoming softer and more absorbent. A gentle cool machine cycle with mild detergents like Steamery’s Delicate rose & musk is a good option. Many linens are extremely robust and can tolerate more stringent washing but the kinder you are to your clothes the longer they’ll last.
I’ve linked some of my top linen picks from the current Maze collection, some of which you maybe surprised to see are jersey qualities such as Bellerose Neep Knit. Like cotton, linen can be knitted as well as woven, it can also be combined with other yarn qualities to create different textures and finishes like the Indi & Cold Striped Linen T-Shirt, not limited to garments linen is used to create all sorts weird and wonderful things like our Fog Linen Work Francis Tray, Fog Linen Work Oven Mitten, Linen Tea Towel and Fog Linen Work Canna Pouch. As for a good old fashioned 1005 linen piece we can’t recommend highly enough Hartfords Paul Linen shirts (for the men and the women) and Indi & Cold’s Linen Co-ord in Pistachio or Ecru.
Whether you’re a fan or not, linen is here to stay and has a place in all our lives in one guise or another, so might as well embrace it, rumples and all. Shop our mens and womens linen collections below.