Hayden Duster $259, Linen Tunic $179, Chandra Pants $159; linen stooks bundled in the field after harvest
by style contributor, Julie
It’s no secret that linen is the one of the most expensive textiles in the world. It’s also the oldest: once reserved for only the top tier of royalty and most bougie of bougie. Its ability to absorb and wick moister faster than most any other fabric makes it a natural for hot, humid tropical climates. Which is probably why when I think linen, my mind automatically goes to beaches, bronze bodies, deck shoes, and the faint sound of calypso music drifting in the salty breeze. I think relaxed, kicked back, and sandy toes – but never do my thoughts drift to how difficult this easy breezy fabric is to produce. Needless to say, it’s no holiday!
Linen is made from the fibers that are found in the stem of the flax plant. More often than not, it takes countless plants to make a modest amount of fabric.
The stem must be separated from all other parts of the plant in order to be made into what we know as linen. Of course, now in 2015, we have modern day technology to help with the separation process, but traditionally this was done by hand. After the stems are separated from the other bits of the plant, the fibers have to be separated from the stem. Although these fibers are very strong, this process can’t be done in haste: any broken or smashed fibers are unusable. Because of this, a chemically-produced bacteria is used to eat away at the stalks and separate the fibers. After this separation comes, you guessed it, more separation! The fibers are combed to more definitively separate the soft and usable fibers from the stiff and hard unusable fibers. Finally the fibers are ready to be spun into yarn and then woven into their final textile state.
Phew! So after that very abbreviated explanation of how linen comes to be, can you really say that you don’t have a love and new found appreciation for one of the first fabrics known to man?