Where Does Your Linen Come From?
Do you know the origin of your linen? Is it something you’re concerned about?
We’re becoming more and more aware of the impact of our buying choices. There is a movement to become more mindful about our purchases and the effect they have on the environment. Not only is there more scrutiny of the carbon footprint of transporting goods around the word but there is also more concern about the chemical processing of fabric and fibre and the cost of the mountains of goods we throw away each year. Fast fashion, in clothing and in the home, is becoming a hot topic.
If the origin of your goods matters to you, if you care about the conditions of the workers and keeping traditional techniques and skills alive as we do, then it is important to know the process.
Where was your linen made?
Check the label! What does it say?
In the last few years big maunfacturers have begun to export European flax to India and the Far East for spinning, weaving and making-up of the finished product. It’s cheaper to do that and ship it back that’s it is to buy goods that have been grown, harvested, woven and manufactured in Europe. If the price of a set of bedlinen is so much cheaper the it used to be, and is so much cheaper than say, pure Irish linen, and the retailer still makes a healthy profit, where does that margin go? Unfortunately it isn’t absorbed by the retailer but by the weavers, growers and makers. Cheap prices typically mean poor conditions and barely liveable wages for the workers at the bottom of the chain.
Manufacturers and retailers are permitted to label and advertise their goods as French, Belgian or European linen, if the raw materials originate in Europe. However, if linen is marketed as such but does not say ‘Made in France’ or ‘Made in Belgium’ or ‘Made in Europe’, it usually means that the product is made from flax grown and harvested in Europe but spun and made up in India or the Far-East.
In the U.K. we usually label the country of manufacture so look carefully at the labels. What is marketed as Pure French Linen or 100% French Linen or even European Linen may not have been made in that country or region, in conditions you were hoping. European manufacturers don’t label the origin of their products, only the fabric composition.
Where Does Home Trousseau linen Come From?
All of our Home Trousseau linen is made in Ireland or Lithuania, by weavers and growers using a few lifetimes worth of knowledge, experience and skill.
Irish linen production is very tightly controlled and in order to bear the label ‘Pure Irish Linen’ the product must have been grown, spun, woven and manufactured in Ireland.
The traditions of the growers and weavers of Lithuania echo those of Ireland, Northern France and Belgium, but because they have been behind the iron curtain so long, the costs of production are lower, a cost which has made linen more and more accessible as an everyday fabric. When the Baltic states joined the European Union in 2004, particularly Lithuania and Latvia, we begun to have access to other producers who’s very fabric of society is rooted in linen weaving and manufacture.Lithuanian producers are making some of the best linen available at the moment and their tradition of washing the finished product has made the crumpled look so popular today.
If we are unsure of the origin of our fabric and our products, we won’t sell them. We are committed to being transparent about our buying and we don’t want to sell anything that we beleive may have been made in unregulated conditions in factories not fit for purpose and by workers not being paid a living wage. That’s why we buy in Europe. We want to uphold the principles of slow living and the creation of a mindful wardrobe for the home, from suppliers we trust and with skills we want to honour. We hope you do too.