Menu Cart

A brief history of linen

Our *favourite* fabric.


Linen is our long-time fabric darling. With its understated, luxurious appeal and unique qualities, we’re making a case for linen as the *best* textile out there. But first a lil’ history lesson: there is evidence that woven flax fibres were used some 36,000 years ago. Cultivation of flax most likely began 5000-4000 BC; in ancient Egypt linen was used in the process of mummification, symbolising light and purity as well as wealth. The various techniques for growing and manufacturing linen were documented on the walls of tombs, temples and palaces, testifying to its importance. In Mesopotamia linen was reserved for the upper classes as it was considered a rarity.

Linen has always been expensive as the manufacturing process is labour intensive - but it’s well worth the hassle if you ask us. Flax is an annual plant and is ready to be harvested within 100 days. The longer the fibre the better the quality, so flax is either hand pulled or cut close to the root. Premium quality flax is primarily grown in Western Europe, thanks to a combination of factors: flax’s low thermal density, rich soil, damp ocean climate and the experience of the European flax farmers (the linen Bemz uses originates from Belgium.)
Many people want to know what the most sustainable fabrics are. Linen is a sustainable and environmentally friendly fabric as it requires less water and chemicals than other fibres to cultivate. It’s an extremely durable, hypo-allergenic and strong fabric - up to 30% stronger than cotton - yet linen is lightweight and wicks away moisture, which makes it ideal for warmer climates. The flax fibre is inelastic, so linen retains its shape perfectly. Much like denim, linen becomes softer and more supple after each wash with a high natural lustre.

Over the past few years linen has made a comeback in design and fashion circles. As seen here, interior designer Pella Hedeby styled an IKEA Söderhamn sofa and armchair with a Bemz Loose Fit Urban cover in a rustic, textured linen. We’ve already gushed about our love of linen bedding in this post and we’ve got the facts to back it: studies actually show that sleep quality is significantly improved when using linen sheets as it’s hypoallergenic and allows the skin to breath. So there you have it - irrefutable proof that linen is the *best* textile out there.