The Story Behind Our Eco-Friendly Linen
May 06, 2022 LifeWear
Linen is one of the world's most popular and enduring fabrics; we turn to it every summer for lightweight, breathable comfort and elegant, breezy style in one simple layer. But what does linen bring to your wardrobe that other time-tested fabrics do not?
LINEN IS... ECO-FRIENDLY
The flax plant that eventually becomes linen requires no irrigation to grow; rainwater is enough. In fact, if flax cultivation was replaced by cotton, 650 billion cubic meters of water would be used in the process.
The flax plant is also a carbon sink, as it traps nearly 250,000 tonnes of CO2 every single year. The growing process also requires no GMO, no defoliant and only low fertiliser use.
Flax is also a zero-waste plant. Each part of the plant has its purpose: scutching tows can serve as raw material for paper or composite production, shives are ideal for manufacturing chipboards or for animal bedding and linseeds are transformed into oil.
LINEN IS... BREATHABLE
Flax fibre is hollow on the inside and can absorb moisture well. In fact, linen fabric can absorb up to 20% of its own weight in water! The fibre also releases moisture easily, which makes the fabric dry quickly.
LINEN IS... THERMOREGULATING
Contrary to popular belief, linen clothing is a great choice for all seasons; not just summer. Linen is naturally thermoregulating, meaning it offers a cooling feeling in summer and insulating properties in winter.
LINEN IS... RESISTANT
Linen is a very durable fabric and therefore ideal for keeping up with your day-to-day, while staying supple and resistant without pilling or becoming distorted. It can last years and has a high resistance to wear and tear.
LINEN IS... EASY CARE
Linen is easy to care for. Hand washing, machine washing or dry cleaning: whatever suits you best.
EUROPEAN-SOURCED FLAX FIBRE
France is the world's largest producer of flax. 85% of the world's production of scutched flax fibres comes from Europe, the result of close-proximity cultivation which is part of a well-conceived, eco-responsable, agricultural program. All of UNIQLO’s flax fibres are sourced from Europe, which has a long history of producing high quality linen.
Learn more about the steps required to turn zero-waste flax plants into the linen fabric you know and love, and how the UNIQLO Premium Linen Collection comes to be.
Cultivated in close proximity, flax is grown along a wide coastal band of Western Europe, stretching from the South of Normandy in Northern France through Belgium and the Netherlands. The only plant textile fibre originating on the continent, its excellence is thanks to a unique combination of a natural, damp ocean climate and the experience of flax growers.
Step 1: SOWING
Between mid-March and mid-April, the sowing process begins. After 100 days, flax has already grown to 1 metre.
Step 2: BLOOMING
Mid-June, the landscape has a delicate blue hue for a few weeks due to the blooming of the flax plant. The linen flower only lives for a few hours.
Step 3: PULLING
In July, flax reaches maturity. Flax isn't cut, but pulled up to preserve the length of the textile fibres which go from the roots to the top of the stem.
Step 4: RETTING
The first step in transforming the plant into fibres. The plant is left lying on the field for up to 6 weeks while nature takes its course. Sun, dew and rain help detach the fibrous skin from the central wood.
Step 5: SCUTCHING
The second phase for mechanically transforming the plant into fibres: to use the linen fibres which surround the central wood like skin, it is necessary to separate them. Scutching, a specialised mechanical process, includes shelling, stretching, grinding and treshing.
Step 6: COMBING
Combing is the preparation for spinning; a homogenisation of fibres. Thousands of pins comb the flax to produce two types of fibres: short fibres, which provide coarser yarns, and longer fibres, which will be transformed into glossy ribbons and be the base material for the finest linen yarns.
Step 7: FROM THE FLAX TO THE FABRIC
Thanks to the mixing process, up to 30 flax batches from different regions and years are joined to improve quality and consistency. After that, we start the next phase of transformation where the fibres are untangled, stretched and threaded to produce fabrics of different types. Finally, the weaving begins, which gives life to extra-fine, regular and especially smooth materials.