Sustainable Materials: Linen
Before cotton started being mass-produced in the 19th century, Linen held it’s place as most used fabric in fashion. It is now a slightly more expensive commodity because it takes longer to produce linen yarn than cotton yarn, but it’s environmental benefits far outweigh those of cotton production.
The flax plant (of which linen yearn is made) grows in Northern Europe, where frequent rains mean the plant doesn’t need additional irrigation (no additional water usage). The rich soils ideal for the flax plant also mean that it doesn’t require additional fertilisers (the remnants roots of an old plant act as fertilisers) and pesticides, which means that differently from cotton, linen does not pollute groundwater. Just to put this into perspective, the World Health Organisation reported that between 20,000 and 40,000 cotton workers die each year from pesticide poisoning. In her book ‘To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World’, journalist Lucy Siegle writes that the most popular pesticide with sales of around US$40 million, used in 43 of 81 cotton-producing countries, is a nerve agent. Let that sink in for a minute…
Another advantage to linen is that the entire flax plant can be used - fibres for fabric or paper, seeds (and oil derived from seeds) for food, worked into beauty products, varnishes etc… Like that wasn’t enough sustainable credentials, when untreated the materials is completely biodegradable!
Instagram has recently introduced me to yet another wonderful ethical brand, Son de Flor, who make all their beautiful dresses in.. you guessed it - linen, so naturally I was hooked. The brand was founded by two sisters with the aim to create a slow fashion brand with a soul. And a soul it has, every detail is made with love from the dresses being handmade, to the packaging carefully curated and the surprise poem I have found two days later rolled and tied up in one of the pockets (yes the dress has pockets, yay!) Sometimes we forget how magical fashion can be, we forget that it can be personal, we forget that every item you own should feel like it’s been made just for you. Fashion should be about you as an individual, because an item when worn, should make you feel like yourself or a version of yourself you wish to show the world. That is the gift of true fashion.