Why Linen? - Sophie Williamson Fabrics

Why Linen?

The Sustainability Blog Why Linen

I've always loved linen but never considered it within the realm of sustainable textile production. When I first developed the idea for SWF, I wanted to use recycled plastic for the fabric, produced in Indonesia, with plastic from Indonesia. It took me a while to understand the intricacies of textile production and of plastic recycling and to see that this wasn’t necessarily an easy feat to achieve - and certainly not for a novice with a small startup like mine.

Thankfully, I was introduced to Martin Bonney, a lecturer for fashion and textile design at Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore. While he was excited about the idea of recycled plastic, he quickly pointed me in the direction of linen, "the most luxurious and sustainable material for interior design" (his words!). Up until that point I hadn't even considered looking at other materials as I was so convinced about my plastic idea.*

Martin helped me understand the many remarkable characteristics of linen, and showed me it is one of the most sustainable choices out there when it comes to growing crops for textiles. Not considering the washing and ironing part, it has the lowest carbon footprint of all textile crops. Furthermore, the flax plant is used wholly, i.e. every part is used (flax seed anyone?).

Linen fabric closeup with print

For SWF, we’re only using certified European linen yarn. The downside of this is the carbon footprint (our products are produced in India) but we are offsetting this situation by partnering with SUGi (more on that later). And while the carbon footprint can be offset (albeit in a very flawed system), cleaning water that has been polluted by chemical water retting of the flax fibre stalks is much harder. By using certified European linen, we know that the fibre is extracted mechanically through scutching, which doesn't pollute any waterways. 

There is more on the amazing qualities of linen and I plan to take you on this journey with me when discovering all of the ways of making my textiles as environmentally unharmful as possible (I appreciate "unharmful" is not a real world but if you think about it, calling something 'environmentally friendly' is just greenwashing).

I love the linen we've chosen for our interior design purposes. In particular in the weight we’ve chosen it in, and with a simple weave, which is just divine. It lends a depth to the design, and a flow to any interior design project that quite frankly is unrivalled.

So, don't hesitate to reach out with any questions, comments, and thoughts whether they be on linen or anything else you see fit - I love to hear from you!


*to be honest, I still am. There are amazing companies out there that create amazing and beautiful products with plastic, Weaver Green springing to mind first and foremost. This is something I hope to continue exploring as the company grows and as we begin to understand the urgent need to turn our reliance on plastic into something that does not harm our planet.


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