Flax and technology: European flax is up to the challenge

Flax-linen, occupy a special place in the history of textiles, which can be traced back to 36,000 years BCE. Today, looking resolutely towards the future, flax-linen continues to conquer new markets, which are attracted by its technical and environmental properties.

Flax-linen snowboard
copyright Ecotechnilin

Linen, natural thermoregulation and breathability

At a time when sports brands are evolving to offer more clothing with natural fibres to limit their environmental impact, linen is well-positioned to conquer new ground. The flax-linen production industry takes a proactive stance in CSR thanks to low-impact production methods.

Flax-linen has other advantages, making it perfectly suited for the modern lifestyle: it is multifunctional, dynamic, and bridges the worlds of work and leisure. Measured against and compared with other textile fibres, it exhibits natural thermoregulation and breathability (2014 CETELOR study).

n addition to these qualities, flax can be adapted for various technical applications, increasing its potential. Combining it with polyamide increases its sturdiness, making it ideal for a hike or a city excursion. Blending it with a touch of elastane enhances its stretch, supporting and moving with the body. Special finishes can make linen fabric water-repellent or even waterproof. To this end, the fabric’s surface is coated in oily substances, so that water droplets roll off instead of being absorbed, as they do with some plant leaves and duck feathers.

Linen is as refreshing as it is versatile

The line between sportswear and everyday clothing is becoming increasingly blurred. An increase in city bike trips is generating new needs, and the market is booming. Thanks to its versatility, linen is increasing its presence outdoors in the form of city clothing, less marked by the rules and colours of sport. At the same time, linen jackets and coats incorporate athletic functions and details, breaking with the traditional image of these items. Ideal for between seasons, linen bestows its natural and thermoregulating qualities upon these hybrid garments. Designers are thinking along the same lines: the winners of the Hyères Festival competition for emerging fashion talent are constantly inventing new ways of using linen, from down jackets to trench coats.

Lin technique enduit D.R

To infinity and beyond, with flax

Bateau en lin copyright WeExplore Kairos

The non-textile uses of flax, while less well known, are making the most of its performance via flax-based composites with a variety of promising applications.

Due to the fibre’s eco-friendliness and effective performance, flax composites are used to manufacture skis, skateboards, boat hulls, and sports accessories. The catamaran We Explore skippered by Roland Jourdain, which came in second place in the Route du Rhum race in 2022, was the floating incarnation of one hectare of flax, with a deck built from plant fibres.

Current research aims to go even further. A European Space Agency (ESA) project is currently in the test phase. The goal? To make part of the structure of the spacecraft out of complex materials reinforced by flax fibres. These have a key advantage, as they are more resistant to expansion and more tolerant of extreme temperature variations. Flax also improves transparency to satellite waves, making it possible to send and receive radio transmissions without excessive loss. It is particularly suited for meeting the technical specifications for the end-of-life of space objects: these would simply disappear, disintegrating and burning up without leaving a trace.

Skis Akonite en lin copyright Akonite
Composite lin espace copyright Bcomp Ltd.
Skate en lin copyright Akonite

Are you ready to give new generation flax-linen a try?

The next time you see a European Flax™ or Masters of Linen™ certification, get ready for the clothing of the future, rather than a blast from the past.