Summer 2024 fashion focus : a highly attractive linen

25 April 2024

  • Fashion
  • Linen

This summer, and linen finds itself at the centre of fashion and beauty trends. The plant fibre is inspiring designers and shaping modern aspirations. Thanks to its multiple qualities, flax is seducing young generations. Let’s take a look at highly desirable European flax.

B. Benmoyal linen outfit

Tomato girl was one of last summer’s fashion trends: a romantic girl who loves to wander around Mediterranean markets, showcasing her wardrobe of sensual dresses and skirts made of bast fibres. Quiet luxury, a fashion trend that highlights discreet, high-quality items, has also introduced tailored linen pieces onto the podium of chic casual, with suits, trousers, and waistcoats executed in a neutral colour palette. As for hair colour, “linen blond” is inspired by the beautiful shades of beige of strands of flax. The real showstopper? The Spring-Summer 2024 Zegna Fashion Show, which featured 192 bales of flax from Normandy and a collection that was 70% linen. This was the Italian maison’s artistic director Alessandro Sartori’s ode to linen, which he describes as “the lightness of living and dressing oneself.” Yet further evidence - as if any where needed - that linen is a source of inspiration for modern designers and aspirations.  

European flax-linen and its new fields of expression

Of course, this bast fibre is a model for naturalness and committed and sustainable fashion, as it is eco-friendly, traceable, and grown locally (three-fourths of global production is concentrated in France, Belgium and the Netherlands).  Being light, absorbent, and able to regulate temperature - simply put, very comfortable - it also has intrinsic qualities that are increasingly appealing to younger generations.  “I love linen because it’s a material that reacts almost in the same way as Japanese washi paper,” - explains Satoshi Kuwata, the founder of the luxury unisex label Setchu. “The other reason is that it is one of man’s oldest fabrics, which was used by everyone from Renaissance painters to furniture designers and architects. Linen is a fabric without borders. And each fibre is so unique and durable. It’s a beautiful material aesthetically but is also very practical in terms of use.” Rediscovered by designers and consumers, linen is becoming increasingly popular on fashion catwalks and in retail is conquering new areas of expression.

Look Lin blanc Chloé Tagwalk
Look Lin crème Chloé Tagwalk
Look Lin multicolore Chloé Tagwalk

Pictures above Chloé fashion show

This was revealed by a study conducted by the Kéa consulting firm for the Alliance for European Flax-Linen & Hemp on the current prospects for the textile fibre in ready-to-wear and decoration. It evaluated the growing share of linen in collections in all market segments. For example, in 2021 the fibre represented up to 10% of collections at brands such as Max Mara, Jacquemus, Galeries Lafayette and Le Slip Français and up to 5% for luxury brands such as Chanel, Balmain, Chloé and Hermès. It has now entered every market segment thanks to ambassador brands such as Chloé, Icicle, Uniqlo and Massimo Dutti. A new development: linen is no longer restricted to the traditional linen shirt but can be seen in all kinds of products, which significantly expands its fields of expression. It is now used in linen knit underwear, but also in outerwear such as trenches and gabardines and outdoor clothing, as well as in the urban world with streetwear, where it is appreciated for both its comfort and appearance.

Converting creative teams to the use of Linen 

Tenue Lin Laeticia Casta Jacquemus

Nevertheless, some challenges persist when it comes to expanding the use of the fibre in the world of fashion. During the roundtable held in honour of the publication of our study, Alexandre Capelli, Environmental Deputy Director at LVMH, described how difficult it was to convince creative teams to use linen, viewed as not very “sexy,” in their collections. Today however, the fibre is evolving to become more appealing to brands that are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to fabric and price. For example, luxurious blends with silk or wool are becoming increasingly popular alongside the more accessible linen/cotton blends. Far from being limited to the summer, today the fibre is also making the most of autumn and winter. It is no coincidence that Loro Piana, the king of Italian cashmere, has acquired fellow Italian brand Solbiati, considered the most beloved linen brand in Italy, to expand his summer selection.  

Opposite picture Jacquemus fashion show

In order to better withstand the elements, linen is now equipped with bio-based coatings, creating a lining that makes it versatile for both city and outdoor use. For example, for winter 2024, spinners and weavers sought to enhance the fibre’s natural temperature regulating qualities to create cozy, protective envelopes. Casual wear and homewear are becoming more elegant, ennobled by authentically luxurious blends of linen and cashmere or linen and alpaca. Linen can be finished to appear scraped and fluffy, whereas velvet adds a feeling of soft luxury.  

Linen, a resilient fabric? The answer is a resounding yes. Because beyond its creative aspects, “This fibre is the only material, - explains Alexandre Capelli, - which allows us to achieve all the objectives of LVMH’s sustainability strategy, that is, circular creativity, traceability and transparency, biodiversity, and climate.” This comes at a time when fashion must adapt to numerous changes related to CSR in order to meet consumer expectations for producing better, limiting waste, providing transparent information, etc. Linen is thus an important ally in addressing these new challenges, especially given Europe’s current implementation of a strategy on the circular economy, which includes regulations that will lead to fundamental changes in the sector.  

Look Lin noir Louis Vuitton Tagwalk
Look Lin noir/blanc Louis Vuitton Tagwalk
Look Lin beige/rouge Louis Vuitton Tagwalk

Pictures above Louis Vuitton fashion show

Linen as an envoy for design 

 

The Alliance offers designers specific tools to discover all of linen’s potential in the form of webinars, trend books, and the Linen Dream Lab, a designer’s room dedicated to inspiration and fabric sourcing. At the same time, it also wishes to communicate with the broader public, for example, by holding events. In February, as part of Paris à Poil(s), a campaign set up by la Samaritaine as a nod to the exhibit Des cheveux et des poils (Hair & Hairs) at the MAD, the department store’s windows were decorated with 42 kilometres of European flax fibre transformed into giant plant wigs.  Published in September by Actes Sud, the book Flax-Linen, Fibre of Civilisation(s), reinscribes the thousand-year-old fibre in humanity’s cultural heritage.  

 

The Alliance is also helping to support young generations of designers, conveying its passion through programs such as its partnership with the 38th International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion accessories, Hyères, whose 38th edition took place in October and saw a triple win by Belgian designer Igor Dieryck.  The Alliance also supports the Design Parade, chaired this year by linen fan Noé Duchaufour-Lawrence. Its 2023 winners have also shown very strong interest in the fabric. This is the case for French designer Clément Rosenberg, who used drapes by Belgian weaver Libeco and fabric by Biofib’Isolation (which makes flax fibre insulation) for a quilted effect to create a cocoon, just like those in which cicada larvae mature for several years before emerging. Proof, once again, that linen can be one’s most trusted winter companion.  

Opposite picture, Igor Dieryck look - young Belgian fashion designer, Hyères Fashion Festival

 

Tenue Lin Igor Dierick

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