Linen 101 - One of the Most Biodegradable and Stylish Fabrics in Fashion History

Do you know that linen is the most sustainable fabric? Yes, linen is biodegradable, and this fabric never goes out of style! Linen has a rich historical background. Here, we explore lesser-known facts about linen, its style quotient, and the impact linen has on the environment.


Linen fabrics are made from flax plants, a plant with beautiful blue flowers, which doesn’t need any fertilisers or pesticides. This makes linen a renewable resource and a fine fabric that can be easily obtained without causing much damage to the environment.

Linen fabrics can withstand higher temperatures, making them perfect for summers. You can sleep on linen bedding; use it as curtains, tablecloths, tea towels, and use it for several other kitchen purposes! The versatile linen is sturdy, making it ideal for clothing, industrial products, upholstery, and canvas for oil paintings. Furthermore, amongst the several other materials used in making the American dollar bill, linen is one of them! It can absorb high moisture without holding any bacteria. These fabrics are proven to become stronger when wet and when dried after washing, it becomes softer and more flexible. Linen just gets better with age!

An insight into linen’s rich legacy

The use of linen dates back thousands of years, and since flax has been grown worldwide, it bears a lot of spiritual and cultural significance in many countries.

Recorded anthropological (study of humankind) evidence from Georgia shows that wild flax was woven in the fabric about 36,000 years ago. Other notable artefacts of linen were found in Swiss Lake dwellings that belong to 8000 BC. Linen was also used to make a famous battle armour which was called Linothorax!

Linen was once a prized possession, so much so that it was used as a currency in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians even used linen for the mummification process as it symbolised wealth and purity. It was used as a valuable commodity in ancient Rome and Greece as well. In fact, in Mesopotamia, linen was a ‘luxurious fabric’ owned only by society’s higher and richer sections.

Not only does linen find a mention in the Holy Bible, but it also has a secure place (and is used) in most religions across the world.

What makes linen biodegradable?

Linen is made from natural fibre, which is why it is 100% biodegradable and recyclable. It just takes two weeks for pure natural linen to start to decompose. If the linen pieces are cut in smaller sizes, the decomposition process will be even faster!

Linen fabrics are recycled into paper and widely used as insulation materials for the automobile (basically car) industry. The bi-products obtained from the flax plant are used in making cigarette paper, linseed paints and oil (from the seeds), or rope.

A fact to note is that the entire flax plant can be easily weaved into fibre. This feature adds to the sustainable quotient of the fabric since no waste is left over after the spinning and weaving process. Furthermore, if the fibres are produced organically (without the use of dyes and chemicals), there aren’t any chances of water pollution.

If you want to up your sustainable fashion game, we suggest choosing from natural and non-dyed linen colours. The natural linen shades include the colours such as grey, tan, ivory, and ecru.

What makes linen a stylish fabric?

Linen clothing never goes out of fashion. Despite the changes in colours, cuts, shapes, or length, linen fabric is always popular. Therefore, investing in linen ensures a high “cost-per-wear” value, as these classic stylish pieces last longer and look beautiful for years altogether. Here we list down other best features of linen to help you understand what keeps this material in vogue all the time!

  • Linen is adored both by men and women alike. It is ideal for formal shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, blazers, and Mandarin and Nehru collar shirts. The fabric makes the best of other wardrobe accessories such as handkerchiefs and pocket squares. Linen is perfect for relaxing home wear too.

  • It is best suited for every season! Linen not only absorbs moisture but regulates temperature as well. Therefore they keep you cool in extreme sweaty weather conditions and retain heat in colder conditions.

  • Apart from moisture, linen quickly absorbs dyes, which means even a simple design on linen clothing makes it appear beautiful.
  • Linen is versatile and can complement every occasion. Right from a corporate event to formal meetings, or for a more casual look, you name it, and linen fabric has got it! The modern linen clothing range includes exciting cuts and patterns that can be styled with accessories like straw hats, canvas shoes, and canvas bags in the summer season. At the same time, you can layer linen clothing with leather jackets and loose-knit woollen sweaters on colder days.

  • The crease and crisp look of linen add to its charm. There is no need to iron these wonderful clothing pieces. But if you like your dresses ironed, do it when the attire is still damp (after washing). 
  • While other fabrics build up moisture and allow bacteria and other microbes to breed, linens are hypoallergenic (unlikely to cause any allergic reaction). This is because linen is breathable, and the attire allows free movement of air.

  • Wearing linen can never be a bad choice because there is something for everyone. These clothes are designed for comfort with loose fittings. It is a must-wear option for people of all sizes, shapes, and ages.

What makes linen an eco-friendly fabric and material?

Linen has been in vogue for centuries and for all good reasons. Let’s learn how linen affects the environment:

  • Flax plants grow naturally and don’t require any additional water except for rainwater. It requires minimal pesticides and fertilisers in its production. Besides this, not much energy is required to process flax into fibre.
  • A fun fact: Do you know that a linen shirt is produced only in 6.4 litres of water, whereas a cotton shirt (non-organic) takes about 2,700 litres in its production. 
  • Flax plant preserves the land and also cuts out CO2! Just one hectare of flax plantation can remove 3700 kgs of CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • As the linen yarns are inherently strong, starching is unnecessary during the spinning and weaving process.
  • Flax linen is much stronger than cotton; therefore, items made by linen-like curtains, clothing, and upholstery last longer rather than ending up soon in landfills.
  • Linen is a natural insect-repellent fabric. It naturally repels moths and other insects, and therefore you don’t need preservatives (like naphthalene balls) while storing linen clothing in your wardrobe.

A handy guide to buying linen online

Read on to grab some essential tips if you want to bag perfect linen products either for home décor or for your wardrobe:

  • Check for eco-friendly standards: Ensure that the linen you buy is organic and meets modern eco-friendly standards. Manufacturers generally put out certifications that their product is organic and made from sustainable flax that has not been treated with any pesticides.
  • Check if the fabric is pre-washed: Linen shrinks after the first wash. This is why many manufacturers pre-wash the materials so that the fabric doesn’t shrink much after it is sold.
  • Master the linen lingo: Linen is woven in several ways, and each production is different from the other. Therefore, while buying your product online, you must choose from the best! 


Here’s how to identify the most suitable material:

  • Sheeting linen (highest thread count linen and tightly woven, suitable for bedding fabric)
  • Suiting linen (standard medium weight, best suited for summer suits)
  • Waffle weave (makes great towel fabric)
  • Plain-woven (suitable for kitchen like tea towels)
  • Damask (a decorated and delicately finished fabric)
  • Loose-woven (extremely high absorbent material)


Linen is a great textile. It is sustainable, eco-friendly, stylish, durable, beautiful, and gets better after every wash. 

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