It’s Love Linen month and we love linen! It is one of fashion’s most beautiful and ecological fibres. A fibre that has been worn for centuries yet feels utterly timeless and forever in vogue; a fibre that is made for bright, bold paintbox colours, flows like the wind and only needs rainwater to grow.
I have loved you ever since the day I nervously and excitedly invested my first decent reporter’s paycheck in an elegant, form-fitting linen suit the colour of Scottish oatmeal, with a dash of mother of pearl shimmer. I wore that suit to interview many an actor and national treasure and it always felt like the most wonderful, grown up, feminine suit of armour.
As Love Linen month continues until the 26th of May, it is good to discover a new crop of brilliantly talented Made in Britain designers including Justine Tabak and Gunda Hafner who have also fallen in love with linen’s peerless qualities from the wonderfully cool feel on hot summer skin to the effortless way it drapes, pleats and stands out from the crowd. And how did I live before discovering Gunda Hafner’s completely timeless, playfully sassy collections in natural fibres? My go-to fashion must have? My slate grey, box pleat, linen mini skirt indispensable for my life as a reporter and for jumping in puddles, paired with a treasured, seventies Dior lipstick red velvet vintage jacket. I am even prepared to get the ironing board out, to flatten the pleats, just so, otherwise my mama tells me off!
And linen is just the most marvellous fabric for dresses. But not just any dress. The quite perfect Anne of Green Gables, prairie dress Justine Tabak designs in colour pops of sunflower yellow, elegant navy, jewel green or pillar box red with frills and pretty cap sleeves. A slow fashion masterpiece of a dress to love and lark in for years and years to come and then pass on as a treasured slow, conscious fashion heirloom…
Slow fashion designer Justine Tabak shares my passion for the impeccable qualities of linen. Last year the former Jigsaw designer dressed the Love Linen Team for the opening event at the V&A’s Fashioned from Nature Exhibition in her extrovert dresses made from pure Irish linen.
She says, “ I have always loved linen from wearing it myself, for it’s cool comfortable and relaxed feel. I seem to remember it was a really fashionable fabric in the 90’s and I bought into lots of linen bias cut dresses at that time, designing many when I worked for Jigsaw. I became a convert to the natural charm of linen with its cool dry handle and effortless drape.’
She continues, “When i started my own collection a couple of years ago, it was a must to use linen. I’ve used it across all seasons, plain brighter colours for the summer and woven into beautiful checks and tartans for autumn. I love how linen takes colour so well and there are endless variations for patterns as well as being a good base for prints. I love that linen has that authentic quality, has been used for centuries yet overcomes fleeting fashion and remains modern… perfect for my slow fashion brand where timeless beauty supersedes fleeting fashion.”
As a designer who strives to produce low impact slow fashion that will last for many seasons, Justine is also inspired by linen’s positive ecological footprint.
I love linen for its sustainable properties and as I’ve got more involved in the campaign, I’ve discovered even more reasons to use linen as an eco-friendly fabric. Flax is the only textile fibre that only needs rainwater for its production and as the flax grows to its crop height within a couple of months, it’s incredibly quick to grow before harvesting. Flax and linen is entirely biodegradable so leaves no unwanted waste in the environment. I use Irish linen from suppliers that work to fully sustainable principles, a no-waste ethos and to sustainable values. See here for John England Sustainable document https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ItOzpYs0yMzABqdRZBDwIDgx0E_kHdCI/view
Stop Press! If you are in London, you can meet Justine Tabak at two other leading linen sustainable fashion houses at a Love Linen Meet the Makers pop up cocktail event on Thursday the 9th May. Justine is also offering free postage on orders placed during the next two weeks as of today.
Here is the link via Eventbrite to attend the cocktail evening
More for more information on Love Linen month and how to invest in timeless linen fashion, textiles and homewares visit the website – Love Linen Campaign
Love Our Conscious Fashion Journalism and Storytelling? Check out this feature on how to Invest in Fairtrade Fashion