Is Linen Expensive?
- Linen is a very high-quality natural material that is widely used in the clothing and bedding industries;
- Compared to other natural materials, linen items are higher in price;
- In the article below, we will explain why linen costs more and if it is really worth it.
Let's admit, we all have this stereotype in our heads that linen is one of the highest quality premium materials. And that's ok because that is totally true! What many of us also know is that linen clothes and bedding are one of the most expensive ones. And that's, unfortunately, true, too.
However, in defense of natural linen fabric, in this article, we will try to explain to you why linen is expensive compared to other materials, like cotton.
A Brief History of Linen Fabric: from Flax Plant to Eco-Friendly Fabric
Now we know that linen has a price but just so you know - that was not always the case. In fact, the price of linen and cotton was more or less the same at some time back in history.
Linen fabric is one of the oldest ones - ancient people discovered and woven it from the flax plant thousands of years ago. Egyptians and Mesopotamians loved linen clothing, bedding, and, of course, table linens. Being outstandingly durable, sturdy, and not easy to break, linen was very much appreciated then (and now).
With time, linen production has become a sign of luxury. Poor people could not afford it and the rich ones would proudly cover their table with linen tablecloths to show their fortune. Today, quality linen bedding and clothing are still considered luxury fabrics, while cotton has evolved into a much cheaper fabric.
The reason why linen is expensive after so many years compared to other fabrics is pretty logical - it all comes down to the high production cost. Here's a brief explanation of how linen production process looks like today:
- Growing flax plants. Flax is a sensitive plant that grows only in cooler climates. The best quality linen is produced in Western Europe - France linen and Belgian linen are the TOP ones. Generally speaking, the living cost in such countries itself is higher compared to other countries, therefore the flax growth and linen production processes are also pricey. Besides, the flax plant growth process is very specific and more difficult compared to, for example, cotton farming. It grows widely and requires special care and attention.
- Harvesting flax plantations. In short, the flax harvesting process is extremely laborious and takes a lot of time. After seeding, it takes about 90 days for the flax to be harvest. The plants have to be uprooted to obtain as long fiber as possible. Therefore, flax is usually harvested by hand. After the harvesting process, the stalk has to be extracted from the flax fiber - this process consists of at least 3 additional steps (softening stalks, scutching, and then hackling them).
- Weaving process - from flax fibers to linen fabric. This step is any less difficult and time-consuming than the previous ones. This step also requires high attention and cannot be fast-forwarded in any way (even machinery) because flax fibers are very fragile and delicate, therefore the weaving process has to be slow and gentle. As a result, the volumes of linen production are lower compared to other fabrics.
So, as you can see, linen hasn't become more expensive and pricey over the years. In fact, other fabrics simply have become cheaper because their production process could be automatized, fast-forwarded and that naturally lead to lower prices. However, even being a natural fabric, cotton cannot be compared to linen in terms of quality, eco-friendliness, and sturdiness. Also, the production of cotton consumes lots of water and chemical substances while natural linen - not.
Of course, you can always find lower price linen production in the market. However, it is very likely that it comes from India, China, and similar countries but not Europe. Sadly, the quality of them will also be lower.
Does it already make a little bit more sense why linen clothes hold their price after so many years?
If no, we have some more down-to-earth practical reasons for you to see why linen is worth its price!
Benefits of Linen Bedding and Linen Clothes
- Comfortable and versatile. Winter or summer - any season is perfect for sleeping in linen bedding or wearing linen clothes. During winter, linen bedding will keep you warm and cozy, and during summer - it will cool you off and wick the moisture away. It's because of the natural properties of the flax fiber that allow air to circulate freely and move around moisture that builds up. If you are interested, here are some more reasons for wearing linen clothing for summer.
- Sturdy and durable. Linen fiber is one of the sturdiest fibers in the world. It is 30% stronger and thicker than cotton and, in fact, absorbs much more moisture, therefore linen clothing is not only breathable, lightweight, and high-quality, but also very durable. And that's exactly why it is worth every cent! Why buy plenty of low-quality, polyester clothes, and sheets, if you can purchase one linen bedding set for many years to come? Because linen is so strong and durable, we had to even think of ideas on what to do with old vintage linen tablecloths.
- Health properties. Flax fiber is naturally antibacterial and that makes linen cloth suitable even for people with allergies or skin sensitivities. Such qualities don't let bacteria build up and wick the moisture away. That's exactly why linen bedding, various linen cloths, and kitchen linens are perfect for environments where dust mites and germs are more likely to appear.
- Eco-friendly and sustainable. We are all becoming more and more aware of today's negative ecological situation and want to contribute to a more sustainable future. That's why eco-friendly, durable, and sustainable linen production is a great choice for any of us who wants to reduce the amount of waste and are conscious of the very bad impact fast fashion-produced polyester clothes have on Earth. The flax plant is used entirely - from top to the bottom to leave no waste to make various types of products - from linseed oil to food for livestock, and even wood-finishing products. It is completely biodegradable, so even if you ever decide to get rid of a linen garment, you can be confident you won't be creating long-lasting waste.
- Chic look. Of course, you can disagree because the taste is not a friend - but for us, linen clothes definitely have a unique style. Stone-washed linen color is very cozy and looks gorgeous compared with nice accessories. You can wear one dress on many different occasions and you won't look boring. Style it with gold accessories or thicker clothes, such as knitted sweaters - you can create plentiful different looks.
Here you go, now you know all the truth about why luxury linen is pretty expensive compared to other materials. Hopefully, you now have a better image of it instead of thinking that linen is simply a rich people thing! If you have never had a natural linen piece of clothing or bedding - make your first purchase (spoiler alert: it might be a life-changing decision)!