Don't be fooled by 'French Flax' linen

If you’re considering investing in linen, don't get caught with your guard down. Linen is a timeless textile that you will enjoy for many decades to come. However, most brands offer ‘French Flax Linen’ or ‘European Flax Linen’, but what you may not know is that all this means is the flax was grown in this region, then shipped off to China or India to be transformed into linen. This is where everything changes and the quality of your linen is compromised.
 
Our Belgian Linen is different. You’ve probably noticed that we don't have to call it ‘Belgian Flax Linen’ and wondering why? It’s confusing, we know. In this article we will help you learn why Belgian Linen is one of the most prized textiles in the world, and why Australia doesn't need another low end linen brand.
 
“The difference is when the word ‘Flax’ isn’t in the name”
 
Let us start by telling you that all linen comes from flax, one of the most sustainable fibres in the world. Grown only in the optimal climate of France, Belgium and The Netherlands. Here the soil and climate are optimal for flax production, so it’s no surprise that flax comes from Europe. Once it’s harvested, dramatic differences in quality begin to arise, all depending on where it’s processed and transformed into linen. It can be called ‘Belgian Flax Linen’ regardless of where it was processed. The difference is when the word ‘Flax’ isn’t in the name. Belgian Linen is geographically trademarked, just like Champagne, and available only when the textile was woven in Belgium. The Belgians combine only the highest quality fibres, with unrivalled quality and craftsmanship to form the foundations of this internationally protected and highly prized textile.
 
The quality of the fibre is directly linked to the process of extracting the fibre, known as retting. This is where flax is left in the fields for several weeks, exposed to nature and the optimal climate to break the woody stalks down to enable access to the fibres. This process can take anywhere from two to six weeks, depending on the climate and only a highly skilled expert can determine when the retting stage is complete. If the retting stage is too short, fibres are hard to extract. If the process is too long, fibres will rot and lose their strength. Elsewhere in the world, this process is often chemically achieved.
 
“Think of it like biting into a juicy peach pulled straight from the tree vs one grown on the other side of the world, harvested early and artificially ripened on a boat.”

Finally, the flax is ready for processing. It undergoes scutching, hackling and spinning to create a yarn that can then be woven. During this stage, machines break the woody stems of the flax leaving behind only the fibre. Thousands of pins comb the fibres and separate the long fibres, known as ‘the line’ from the shorter fibres called ‘the tow’. The line is used for the finest linen, while the tow is used for coarser textiles such as canvas.
 
The yarn is now ready for weaving. Weaving linen is high-precision work with no margin for error, but the Belgians are unrivalled experts. It’s often said that a linen weaver can easily weave cotton, however a cotton weaver cannot weave linen.
 
Quality control in Belgian Linen manufacturing would give customs a run for its money. The moisture levels and the tensile strength are first assessed to determine if the yarn is strong enough. Uniformity of colour is then inspected. If the yarn fails any of these initial inspections, it’s rejected.
 
Once the yarn is woven into a textile, it undergoes even more quality control. Fabric is assessed for the smallest of flaws; a missing thread, a protruding loop or even a small stain. Flaws are recorded with precision using a meter measure and if there are too many flaws, the fabric is rejected.
 
It’s now ready for finishing. The linen is sheared to remove any pills and final impurities before it undergoes hours of other treatments such as washing, bleaching, dyeing, rinsing, neutralising or softening. The most important is softening. This is where the linen fabric is softened mechanically with hot air at a tremendous force, resulting in the soft and luscious fabric we know and love. Linen. Elsewhere, these treatments would be chemically achieved without patience or care practiced by the Belgians.
 
Investing in linen is truly wonderful. By choosing Belgian Linen, you’re choosing the finest quality linen in the world. We fell in love with it at first touch and we hope you do, too.

"I knew we had something special, the moment I felt our linen"

Mel, Co-founder.