Fall in love with linen
There's a distinct beauty to be admired about linen. A beauty that isn't confined to its physical form but expands to the intangible. With its flaxseed to fabric process teaching us to respect nature's pace and soft creases reminding us to celebrate a well-lived life, linen is an antidote to the perpetual obsession with speed and perfection.
As much as it seems like linen has lost its place as the universal fabric of choice upon the mass production of cotton in the 19th century and with polyester being presumedly more durable, it remains valued for its unique properties and environmental benefits, especially among those who are moving towards sustainability. However, this demand is often exploited - not all linen are made the same way.
An off-the-rack blouse may state where the garment was piece together and what the fabric composition is but not where the fabric originated from. This supposedly trivial information makes a significant difference on the actual environmental benefits and cost.
Only when cultivated in specific geographical areas can the flax plant be producing zero waste without the need of fertilisers. High-grade linen produced in Europe has much lower ecological footprint due to the ideal climate and long history with the fabric. Instead of throwing around the term "organic" like how cotton is being marketed, there are those with Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification that guarantees chemicals have not been used.
Conventional linen in the global marketplace, sold by textile chains and widely used by fashion companies, are mainly produced in China that involves irrigation, argo-chemicals and fertilisers to produce, negating many of the flax plant's environmental benefits. The quality being exceptionally lower from the European equivalent is the trade-off for a more affordable price. The deviation can sometimes be felt from a simple touch of the fabric, other times from the absence of properties like moisture-wicking, durability and softness from wear and wash. That explains why a linen blouse from ZARA can be priced at SGD69 and exponentially marked down to SGD19 during a sale, it's unlikely that the linen was sourced from Belgium or Lithuania.
Don't make your first encounter with linen, whether in the state of delight or hesitance about the origin, be your last. Fall in love with linen by putting it on to keep cool in the heat, proof your first sourdough bread or wrap your lunch box everyday. For something that has been woven in human history since the ancient Egypt, linen can add deeper meaning to your life. With a little time, wear and wash, your linen will look as lived-in as it's loved.