From up-and-coming designers to established brands, linen is back with a bang, fueled by its undeniable environmental benefits. So is linen on track to unseat cotton on the sustainability path?
Linen has significant advantages compared to conventional cotton, which is regularly flagged for its high water and pesticide use. Being the most widely used bast fiber, flax is known for its ability to grow only with rainwater, without the need for irrigation except in the most extreme conditions of drought.
Thus, the cultivation of flax has several advantages. First, the plants are hardy and require few inputs. Secondly, work is done on crop rotation, which allows the regeneration of the soil and, therefore, a better environment for future crops. In addition, the root system of flax is a remarkable carbon sink; Thus, for example, the cultivation of European flax contributes to retaining 250,000 tons of CO2 per year*. Additionally, the use of linen has always incorporated zero waste goals. From the fibers to co-products such as seeds or straw, everything is used and made good.
In addition to these environmental advantages, it is also important to highlight the performance qualities of the fiber when it comes to garments. Its great resistance and lightness, combined with its excellent ventilation and heat regulation qualities, mean that today the demand for linen exceeds its supply.
Moving towards the top spot?
Although linen production has skyrocketed 132% in 10 years, right now it only represents 0.4% of the fibers, while cotton continues to be the most produced natural fiber, with 22%. ** The idea is not to replace cotton, which would be highly unlikely given the volume of production, but rather to restore the balance between these natural fibers.
The denim industry has rightly taken advantage of this opportunity to expand the range of fibers used to make its flagship fabric, and cotton and linen blends are becoming increasingly prominent in compositions. To boost flax capacities and meet growing demand, the European industry is relaunching spinning mills, especially in France and Portugal. However, in order to continue to communicate the superior environmental characteristics of flax, it is important to ensure that its cultivation continues to conform to the fundamental criteria that have made the reputation of this fiber. While cotton is grown in areas that are sometimes unsuitable for its cultivation, flax must avoid making the same mistakes and ensure responsible growth.
The excellence of European flax can be verified thanks to the European Flax® certification, which grants a guarantee of traceability to top-quality European flax, grown without GMOs or irrigation, thanks to the favorable climate of the growing area, which extends from the north from France to the Netherlands.
The Masters of Linen ® certification attests to the completeness of the stages carried out with European flax fibers, so from the field to the yarn and weaving, each product bears the stamp of virtuous development!
**Source: Textile Exchange