LINEN AT UNIQLO: AN INTERVIEW WITH THE EUROPEAN CONFEDERATION OF LINEN AND HEMP
Feb 28, 2019 LifeWear
It is one of the oldest textiles in the world, dating back more than 30,000 years, and its immaculate legacy endures in contemporary fashion for very good reason. Simply put, not a defect tarnishes the reputation of this textile appropriately called “woven wind” by wise old Japanese men.
Continuing its long-term partnership with the European Confederation of Linen and Hemp (the CELC), UNIQLO reaffirms today that despite linen’s rich and storied history, linen is also more than anything the material of the future.
We sat down with Marie-Emmanuelle Belzung, director of the CELC, to talk more about linen and its amazing properties.
“I have been exploring this plant and its infinite possibilities for eleven years”, she explains. “It is in a field of flax that I learn the most: side by side with farmers and agricultural workers, my feet on the soil.”
The ambitions of the CELC, unique within the textile industry, are impressive and far-reaching. "We cover the entire chain of value of the linen industry, in fourteen European countries. We build partnerships with brands that are truly transparent in their use of linen. From information and training to innovation and traceability, we are here to prove the countless qualities of this amazing fibre."
UNIQLO: Is the eco-friendly nature of linen the modern fashion industry’s new best friend?
Belzung: "Without a doubt, simply because this textile has so many remarkable properties! Linen is 100% environmentally responsible in all stages of its production while also being temperature-regulating, anti-allergenic, breathable, insulating, resistant beyond any test (its use for airplane cockpits is currently being studied), fluid, comfortable… And, quite importantly, local: 85% of linen’s production throughout the world is in Europe. In fact, the promotion of the fibre we’re conducting through the CELC has been facilitated by the very profile of the plant. Linen has actually become an essential material for fashion that is breaking free from the challenges of fast fashion."
UNIQLO: What do you find interesting about UNIQLO's use of linen?
Belzung: The CELC is strongly committed alongside UNIQLO, a precursor in its use of linen, as the approach of this group is infinitely respectable. Consistent and transparent, it focuses on the values of long-term, sustainable development: ecology and the impact of linen in economic and humanitarian spheres.
Despite it being difficult to promise for a brand of this significance, UNIQLO’s guarantee of a reasonable price, the control of its sourcing and its production chain and their overall Japanese values of honesty and sincerity are here entirely at the service of today’s major ecological aspirations.
UNIQLO: Is it imperative to buy European linen?
Belzung: Yes, because linen – the only textile plant fibre native to the European continent – is sourced from local farms. Driven by 10,000 companies in 14 countries of the European Union, this globalised industry is unique in that it encapsulates all stages of production and processing, from farmers to scutchers, weavers, knitters, finishers and traders.
In fact, European linen is not delocalisable because its excellence results from a perfect combination of ocean climate, low thermal density, generous soils and the know-how of liniculturists.
UNIQLO: It is often said that linen, because it wrinkles, is not a very “work friendly” fabric. Is that still the case?
Belzung: Codes and practices have changed. It doesn’t matter if it wrinkles a bit; linen is now accepted in the office beyond just casual Fridays, in the same way that ties have gradually shifted in their purpose and place in the office. When linen is made in mesh, its creasing nature is no longer a worry.
UNIQLO: Are there different qualities of flax?
Belzung: There are no official classifications. In reality, beyond its European origin, which in itself is already a guarantee of quality, it is first and foremost a question of the changing tides and trends of fashion. 20 years ago, the so-called “flame” of the fabric -- little white markings in the weft -- were considered a defect because the fashion world wanted the flattest and most regular linen possible. Today, it almost gives added value to the fabric; a twist of stylish, character and even more authenticity.
UNIQLO: What can our customers do to ensure the longevity of their linen?
Belzung: There are few things, because linen is not a fragile fabric. It can be washed at 60° without risking any damage. We do always advise to iron it a little wet.
Generous and multi-generational, the breadth and versatility of UNIQLO’s huge Linen collection finds everyday solutions for challenges we face in our hectic lives, allowing for fluid movement and effortless style in any situation.
Style and quality for all: this commitment has always been dear UNIQLO and our Lifewear philosophy. Discover a collection of essentials that follow you from high school to the office, from the city to the beach. Enrich your wardrobe with more fashionable pieces, from the men’s shirt she can pick up in a size XS and wear with a pencil skirt to the the striped playsuit, perfect with platform shoes or wooden soled sandals. For men's wardrobes, don't miss the linen off-white parka ideal with white trousers.
Navy blue or olive green, intense orange or lemon yellow, UNIQLO’s linen dabbles with no less than 17 unique and inspiring shades for every mood, every outfit and every aesthetic. Thanks to linen's high rate of dye absorption and flexibility, such a rainbow of vibrancy is the exciting result of the fibre's natural properties.
Premium Linen Only
We don't rely on just any kind of linen for this collection of shirts that look just as good outdoors as they do in interior environments. Thanks to a special treatment that gives them an unparalleled hold, they stand without fail until you're ready to get changed for bed, with just what it takes for an ultra smart wrinkled effect.