From field to end product

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From field to end product

In a world that needs soft, even healing, hands more than ever; in a climate of a growing wordly awareness; in the context of the search for environmentally friendly solutions; in a time in which everyone is tired of hearing the word “crisis”, linen offers an answer to many, today existential, questions.

Natural – The raw material for the production of linen, flax, is a 100% natural fibre. It is the most ecological of all textile fibres. Flax is a renewable, durable, completely biodegradable and recyclable plant. During the growth and elaboration of the flax plant and fibre a lot less energy is needed in contrast to other, comparable, natural fibres. Furthermore, the whole flax plant is used for various purposes. This means there is no waste.

Ecological – Linen is, by definition, a natural and ecological product. The growth of the flax plant uses only a fifth of the pesticides and fertilizers necessary for the production of, say, cotton. The plant also needs only half of the water quantity used for cotton to reach full growth. Flax is satisfied with nothing more than the simple, but extraordinary power of rain and sun to grow. A complicated irrigation system is superfluous. Furthermore, flax puts in its own two cents in the healing of our planet : the plant cleanses the soil of heavy metals and prepares it for the growth of a new or next crop.

Flax blooms and grows at best in a moderate climate and in places where enough farmland is available. The Flanders and other Northern European regions offer the ideal circumstances for the growing of flax. Flax seeds are sown at the beginning of April in regions like the Flanders, Normandy, Brittany and Zeeland in the Netherlands. The moderate climate of these regions offers enough rain and sun at the right time for an optimal growth of the flax plant. In June, when the flax plant flourishes, the fields are wrapped in an enchanting glow of little white or blue flowers. The splendour, that recalls a Van Gogh painting, doesn’t last that long, because the harvesting of the plants already starts in the summer months, July and August. Afterwards the flax is retted on the fields : the typical rotting process flax plant undergoes. The morning dew breaks the plant’s rough stem. The processing phases that follow to transform the flax into linen are of mechanical nature, the subsequent finishes are always operated in an environmentally friendly way.

The mechanical elaborations necessary for the transformation of a flax fibre into a spinnable product are the scutching and hackling. This last process serves to seperate the flax fibre from the plant. Afterwards the flax is spun into yarn of different thicknesses. This yarn is used in the weaving mill in a natural, bleached or dyed form. After the weaving the rigid cloth is washed, bleached or dyed and then made more supple. The finish of the flax fabrics is essential to obtain a supple, well draped fabric with a pleasant touch. On the other hand the finishing can lead to a completely different, but equally desirable effect. In this way it’s possible to obtain a classic, more crispy fabric with a beautiful shine. Possibilities are endless.

Durable – The production of flax is environmentally friendly in many ways: the use of primary energy for the maintenance of linen and the contribution to global warming this might cause, are reduced to a minimum. During the growth of the plant and at the end of its lifecycle no primary energy is used. Other great advantages of linen are its limited use of water and the significant low eco-toxicity. The “cradle to grave” balance of flax, which indicates the fibre’s performance and existence of hazardous waste of the fibre during its entire lifecycle, is positive. This means that, from the growth of the fibre until its disposal, it creates no or very little waste.

Ethical – Producers abide by the international rules concerning labour regulations, wages, working conditions and the employment of minors. There are strict rules that protect the consumer’s health and need to be followed. Several chemicals which could possibly be carcinogenic cannot be used during several production processes e.g. dyeing. All the pigments used in the dyeing process meet the ‘Reach’ standards.

The linen industry is of great importance for the traditional Northern European flax regions. The growth and processing of flax requires craftsmanship and is very labour intensive. Therefore experience and a great know-how are necessary. The Northern European flax regions possess the historical, intellectual and manual capital highly necessary for successful cultivation and processing of flax. The continuous development of the industry adds to the preservation of an important social fabric in traditionally important rural areas in Europe and ensures these flax regions maintain and consolidate their crucial and leading positions in their specific markets. Many flax and linen producers are family owned companies which have the striving for perfection and the love for the flax fibre running through their veins. This business mindset and philosophy is passed on from one generation to the next. The experience and passion for the craft these families and regions possess have become cultural heritage and can under no circumstances be lost.

Linen is the tangible proof of nature’s healing power. Being a natural fibre, linen is a healthy material, it doesn’t irritate the skin and it has even been proven that linen has a healing effect in the treatment of dermatological conditions.

Polyvalent – Linen has quite the variable little character! Next to the obvious applications of linen products there is a whole range of other possibilities. The flax composites have the most varied applications. Their lightness, but apparently ambivalent solidity make the flax composites frequently used materials in the automotive and aviation industry. Flax is also a good insulator and provides fine acoustics. Linen is sporty product as well, you can find it in the production of tennis rackets and surf boards. The seeds, on the other hand, are used for soaps and processed in food. Diligent pens can be filled with flax ink. Already in ancient times linen was a loved and widely used product, because of its ecological, biological and durable nature. Energy is continuously being put in the research of new and improved applications of flax and linen. Recently, for example, furniture is not only upholstered with linen, but the material is being processed in the furniture’s structure as well. In this way – and many others – this age-old product is constantly being reinvented and adapted to a new world and a new type of man!

Linen, nature’s treasure – The strengths of linen reach from its durable essence, its pleasant touch and its aesthetically nice look to the maintenance of important social ties and the continuous strengthening of an exemplary role in the production of flax and, afterwards, the design and development of creative, innovative and original linen products. An old, but time after time innovative industry, that, beyond doubt, needs to be protected in the old continent, Europe.