Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Linen
Linen is the world's most natural and environmentally friendly fiber. It comes from the unassuming blue-flowered linum, or common flax plant, an Old World annual native to temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere. A hearty plant that thrives in diverse environments and requires little fertilizer or pesticides, flax has been cultivated for thousands of years with no environmental damage.
Manufacturing linen is time-consuming and complicated, but no part of the flax plant goes to waste: plant fibers are used to make textiles and paper, and the linseed oil that is a byproduct of these processes is used in oil paints and soap. Even flax seeds and flax seed oil are prized for their nutritional benefits.
A truly renewable natural fabric, linen dovetails beautifully with our commitment to conservation efforts and environmental sustainability. Linen is completely biodegradable and recyclable: it is a textile you can feel good about wearing, and will simply feel good wearing.
Linen's Rich History
Think of it as a wrinkle in time: linen is the oldest fiber known to humanity, with a history some 35,000 years in the making. It probably originated in ancient Mesopotamia—modern-day Iraq, together with parts of Iran, Syria, and Turkey. Ancient Egyptians notably wrapped mummies in linen strips before placing them in sarcophagi. Long prized for its inherent strength (the strongest of all vegetable fibers, it's two-to-three times stronger than cotton), through time linen has been used for everything from mail sacks to roof thatching.
More than merely the most enduring, lightweight, and breathable textile for seasonal clothing, today's linen has wide-ranging applications for bedding, upholstery fabrics, and household textiles, including tablecloths, napkins, and towels.
Versatile Linen: Cool, Breathable, and Durable
Arguably the single character trait to explain linen's longevity through the millennia is its exceptional comfort: simply put, linen is cool against the skin in punishing heat and humidity. Add to this quality its superior strength—linen is actually stronger when it's wet, which is why it washes and wears so well—and you'll be hard pressed to name a more versatile fabric. And like other exceptional quality materials, fine leather for example, linen improves with age, growing softer and more comfortable with wear.
Because linen absorbs moisture better and dries more quickly than cotton, it's ideal for humid summers and tropical climates. Linen is supremely breathable, anti-allergenic, and even possesses natural UV-protection properties. And modern linen is colorfast—you'll find it in every color and print you can imagine.
Linen: A Three-Season Favorite
Don't put it away when you feel a nip in the air—linen knows no season: there is no Memorial Day-to-Labor Day mandate for this plucky fabric. Comfort is key, and linen is happy to be layered. More important is to choose linen in colors appropriate for the season—pastel colors are perfect in the spring, but can look out of place in your fall wardrobe. Heavier weaves in darker colors can be pressed into service right into autumn. And linen blends can offer a tad more warmth in chillier weather.
While it's true linen is made of stiff, crisscrossing yarns that tend to bend and stay bent, consider the wrinkles part of linen's classic charm. If crispness matters to you, consider pairing a linen top or blouse with wrinkle-free trousers for a visually appealing contrast. Or choose a garment in a linen blend, less likely to hold wrinkles. Don't be afraid to pack your linen for travel, at home or abroad—if you're headed to a warm-weather destination, you'll be glad you did.
Discover a full range of men's and women's apparel and accessories at Orvis in classic, breathable, and eco-friendly linen.