Here at Showroom-X, the phrase ‘summer holidays’ collectively conjures images of oceanside escapes, beach reads, an ice cold cocktail and, most importantly, our favourite linen staples.
Synonymous with warm climate wardrobes, linen has grown to become one of the most popular and versatile fabrications in use locally. For this edition of Showroom-X Learnings, we break down the material and explore some of the biggest advantages and misconceptions surrounding linen.
One of the oldest textiles in the world, linen dates back to around 8000BC.
"We try to choose fabric that's gentle on the planet." - SJC
Drawn from the flax plant, the textile itself is created through a process called ‘retting’ which assists in separating the fibres to break down the structure, allowing the material to be separated, spun and woven or knitted. On the plus side, growing flax requires a low amount of water, and there is very little waste associated with the plant, as discarded parts can be reused and repurposed to produce linseed oil or flax seeds for consumption.
Another upside of the material is the lack of harsh pesticides used when crafting organic linen meaning that, when untreated, it is fully biodegradable. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that once the material is mixed or is not organically sourced, the textile is no-longer biodegradable as it was most likely curated using pesticides and harsh chemicals to fasten the production process.
A number of Australian labels harness the benefits of the versatile textile for their collections, including Jac & Jack, SIR., KITX and Sarah-Jane Clarke.
"I find that not all linen is created equal, like many things,” says Clarke, who launched her eponymous brand in 2018. “We source our linen from Lithuania, [from] a family run factory over there … I heard that they did organic linens and I liked the fact that they were a small family-run business. I just thought that tied in quite nicely with my brand."
A personal favourite of Clarke, linen features heavily across her vacation-ready collection, rendered in sun-washed shades of pink, ivory, seagrass and blue. “We try to choose fabrics that are gentle on the planet,” she says, the added bonus being “it keeps you cool; I just find it’s a really durable fabric”.
So how can we ensure we’re investing in sustainable linen? Clarke recommends examining the price tag. “You can normally tell on the pricing, if you’re buying something that is on the cheaper side you probably know that the linen isn’t as good quality as something that’s a little more expensive.”
Next, check the facts. Brands will indicate how the garment is dyed - veer towards natural dyes over harsh chemicals, as these are less harmful for the environment. Keep an eye out for brands that meet organic certifications and ecological and social standards, such as ESSE Studios, SIR., KITX, Bassike and Jac + Jack.
Lastly, approach your linen purchase as a timeless investment. “Depending on how it’s woven, good quality linen shouldn’t lose its shape,” says Clarke, making it a wardrobe staple for years to come.
BY JAIME CARMODY