When it comes to sustainability, few fabrics have the same credentials as linen. A natural fibre that does not rely on water-heavy growing techniques such as irrigation, it also lends itself to making beautifully elegant clothes. So when we were asked to join the I LOVE LINEN campaign – an annual celebration of this humble fabric – we jumped at the chance. To mark the occasion, we met I LOVE LINEN’s director Marie-Emmanuelle Belzung to discuss responsibility, the next generation and winning combinations.
Now in its third year, I LOVE LINEN has – unlike other initiatives – has a somewhat nomadic approach since its inception. Held in France in 2016, it was hosted by Italy in 2017 while this year London steps up to the plate. ‘The size of the I LOVE LINEN itinerary in London will be the biggest yet,’ says Marie-Emmanuelle. ‘I am excited for the public to have this wonderful experience of connection with linen.’
Taking place from Friday 13th April until 13th May, this month-long programme has a variety of different elements to it. Incorporating retail, education and culture, each strand has different partners. John Lewis (which has eight Finery concessions across the country) heads up retail while the Chelsea College of Art takes the education baton and the London-based Victoria and Albert Museum will be the focal point for all things cultural. ‘Our partners have been chosen as you choose a person,’ explains Marie-Emmanuelle of finding the perfect fit.
Each part is vital in raising awareness of the benefits of linen (or flax as it’s known when it is still a plant) of which there are many. Firstly, 80% of the world’s flax is grown in France, Belgium and the Netherlands meaning its carbon footprint is particularly low for European consumers and manufacturers. Fibre production is also chemical-free making it better for the environment while – last but not least – it is great to wear. ‘Linen is breathable, hypoallergenic and comfortable,’ agrees Marie-Emmanuelle. ‘As growers and makers we have a responsibility to the planet. And for the next generation sustainability is not a question; it is integral to their thinking.’
Here at Finery linen has been a key component in our spring collection, from striped tees to tailored trousers. Even Vicky McClure’s eponymous jumpsuit used it. ‘The fabrics we use at Finery have always been important to us so when we were asked to take part in the I LOVE LINEN campaign we didn’t hesitate to say yes,’ explains Finery’s creative director Emma Farrow. ‘Linen is not only incredibly sustainable but it also perfectly fits in with our ethos of treasuring clothes and buying items that will take you from season to season.’
The Victoria and Albert Museum will be exhibiting Fashioned From Nature from 21st April 2018 until 27th January 2019.