More than just a textile, linen has helped shape history

Used for a variety of purposes, linen has helped shape our languages and has had an influence on people across borders.

By Alejandro Ruelas

Sep 4, 2019

Linen is one of the world’s finest textiles. A natural fabric made out of flax fibers, it has been around for millennia, used by different cultures throughout history. Nowadays, it is the go-to material when designers aim for style and elegance in tropical weather and places such as Tulum.

The first traces of its use were found in a cave in Georgia and are estimated to be 36,000 years old. Other prehistoric registers come from findings in Switzerland, dating back around 10,000 years. Perhaps the most famous civilization to produce linen was Ancient Egypt. There, linen was employed in mummification rituals, to make elegant garments, and even as currency. 

Flax fiber is a tough thread to work with. Its lack of elasticity makes it hard to manipulate. Moreover, the proper cultivation of the flax plant is also a labor and care-intensive process. The product, however, is a delicate fabric that is cool to touch, and ideal for warm climates due to its absorbent and fast-drying properties, which are better than cotton.

It also has global cultural significance. Used for a variety of purposes, linen originated new words, such as line (threads were used in antiquity to determine straight lines), lingerie, and lining. Thus, it has helped shape our languages and has had an influence on people across borders. 

Today, linen is a growing trend in fashion. Brands that seek to use organic textiles in their designs are choosing it to make ever more sophisticated pieces. Designers whose garments are available at ZAK IK, such as Jessica Sarquis, René Orozco, The Pack, Ocelote, and Balkanika, are working with this material to produce beautiful dresses, shirts, and even kimonos especially made for tropical destinations. 

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