Sustainable textile guide : Why we are in love with linen
For those of you who are already familiar with Milimilu and our collections, you know that we are all about being more sustainable and reducing our impact on the environment as an individual, but also as a company. We are constantly working towards offering a wider range of sustainable fashion made from eco-friendly textiles. Which is why we simply are in love with linen clothing. In our opinion it is a must-have in every sustainable wardrobe. It is a wonderful fabric to wear, gentle to your skin and breathable, making it a perfect choice, especially for hot and humid summer days. But it is also one of the most eco-friendly textile from a production point of view and very durable. On top, it adds a sophisticated look to your style!
Why linen is so sustainable
Linen is made from flax, a plant that is growing fast and thus is easily renewable. It is very resilient, thus flax needs fewer if any pesticides or fertilizers during its cultivation and its water needs can usually be met by rainfall. After harvesting, the entire flax plant can be used in various ways and hence generates no waste. The short and long fibers of the plant are used, as well as the seeds and turned into textiles, paper, varnish, oil, animal fodder and other bio-materials. After the plants have been pulled (harvested), the root remnants are left to fertilize and clean the soil, improving hereby the productivity of the soil for 6 to 7 years.
Being made from a resilient, low maintenance plant, linen fabrics are more energy efficient than other fabrics. Only 20% of the overall water usage go into growing and making linen, while 80% of the water and energy are actually used to wash and iron the finished garments. To give an example : Buying a linen shirt will save about 19.5L of water, compared to a cotton one.
On top, linen textiles absorb dye and prints well, meaning that less dye is needed to create vibrant colors and beautiful prints. Another win!
Worth mentioning that the production of linen, and especially high quality linen is labor-intensive, translates into a higher price point on purchase. For high-quality linen the flax stems need to be harvested at the longest length possible, which is why hand-harvesting is preferred over machine harvesting. After that, the seeds are removed and the fibers are extracted from the plants by a process called “retting”. It can be done natural, which is again more labor-intensive and done by hand or chemically. After that the longest fibers are spun into yarn and the yarn is woven into linen textiles.
Advantages of linen - making it a sustainable wardrobe staple
The balance on energy efficiency and versatile use of flax is not easy to beat, making linen a rather eco-friendly fabric. But these are not the only advantages. Linen has many virtues that make it a must-have in any sustainable wardrobe.
Linen is very durable
Linen is very durable and can be used over and over again, hence making it a fabric that can be used for years. It will serve you a long time, and at the end of its life span it can still be easily recycled into paper or insulation materials for the car industry, e.g. Admitted: linen can be a bit hard in the beginning, but it will become softer and silkier over time, through usage and washing actually. It will thus be a center piece of your wardrobe for years and just becoming better and better. Unlike cotton, linen's flax fibers are actually several fibers bundled together, which makes the fabric far more durable and hard-wearing. That means you can enjoy your favorite linen clothes longer and make them a center piece of your sustainable wardrobe.
Linen is lightweight and breathable
Linen is lightweight and breathable. Hence it is the ideal textile for hot and humid summers. The air can pass easily through the linen fibers and circulate. The structure of the fabric makes that it moves softly away from your body and does not stick to it. So, it will keep you cool. At the same time linen can absorb up to 20% of its weight without feeling damp. Again, perfect for those hot and sweaty summer days. Say bye to sweaty patches and hello to feeling fresh!
Linen is thermo-regulating
Having hollow fibers means that linen has good thermo-regulating properties. So not only is it a good choice for those hot and humid summer days, but also for colder seasons. A perfect all-rounder. Linda Morrison, founder of MiliMilu confirms, “Back in Latvia, we have cold winters with crisp temperatures to say the least . We have been using linen for generations thorough out the different seasons, be it hot or cold!”
Linen is hypoallergenic
Linen is hypoallergenic. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, it is definitely one of the best fabric choices and won’t irritate your skin. Actually one more reason why Linda Morrison is such a big fan of linen – She, as well as her children have sensitive skin.
Taking care of your linen clothing
Linen is easy to take care of. You can machine wash your linen clothes; just pay attention to wash them at 40 C or less to avoid shrinking and avoid using bleach or detergent with optical whiteners. No other special treatment needed, plus you can tumble dry or hang your linen clothes to dry naturally.
Another good thing about linen: you don’t need to iron your linen clothes necessarily to look good. High-quality linen is wrinkly and those wrinkles are part of the beauty of the fabric. An elegance that is effortlessly achieved and rarely applies to other fabrics.
Bonus: Linen is naturally moth resistant
Why linen is a staple in our collections
We mentioned the advantages of linen, lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking and thermoregulating, characteristics that are not to beat, especially in our HQ base Hong Kong.
What makes linen even more versatile and a perfect companion is its comfort and timeless style. Linen clothes are usually designed to have a loose fit, making them perfect for all ages, sizes, and shapes as well as for any occasion. Can you guess that we are simply in love with linen!?
Founder of MiliMilu Linda Morrison grew up with lots of linen clothing and house wear and has appreciated the characteristics and longevity of linen ever since she was a child. Personally, she still wears linen for almost every occasion, be it daily casual wear, evenings out, comfort and stylish occasions. Especially during hot summer days, as there are many in Hong Kong, linen clothing is her favorite textile to wear as it is breathable, comfortable, yet stylish combined with a touch of luxury. Surely one of the sustainable clothing staples in her private wardrobe. Linen summer dresses and men's shirts are a must-have for every woman and man living in hot and humid weather.
Our efforts to offer the most sustainable versions of linen clothes
We love linen and while it is naturally a very sustainable fabric, more can be done. We work hard to carefully select our linen brands and insure that their linen clothes are made from the highest quality of European linen; flax grown in Europe and then linen produced in Europe. For that reason, all our linen clothes come with an Oeko-Tex certification. Developed in the 1990s by the International Oeko-Tex Association, the Standard 100 is the most well-known and trusted certification for product safety. This certification guarantees that the items test free of high levels of over 100 toxic substances.
Most of our linen clothes are handcrafted and produced in small quantities respecting fair trade standards too, made in the Baltics under EU regulations. It is at our core that we offer the most sustainable clothing from a quality point of view, but also an ethical production point of view. True to what we know as slow fashion and making each item a worthy center piece of your sustainable wardrobe for years to come.
Good to know: currently, MiliMilu offers linen clothing for women and men and we will be adding kids' linen clothing soon. Plus, we are working on something exciting behind the scenes that will actually involve linen too.