The only natural fibre produced in Europe on an industrial scale, flax is grown mainly in Northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
This truly historic fibre is known to have been in use thousands of years B.C. In antiquity, it symbolised divine purity, and was considered a sacred fabric with properties that ensured the wellbeing of the wearer.
The flax plant has only a single stem of between 1 and 3 millimetres in diameter, and 80 to 100 leaves. It grows quickly and it is arguably the most eco-friendly of all the plants that give us natural fibres.
Crops are sown from mid-March to mid-April. This window is essential to guarantee the best-possible balance of crop yield, lodging resistance and the fibre quality in terms of fineness and stability. The stem reaches its maximum height after a hundred days.
Harvested plants are left on the surface of the soil to be macerated by the rain, thereby removing the woody elements of the plant and releasing the fibre.
Once macerated, and as soon as its moisture content falls below 15%, the flax is gathered, compressed into big bales, and stored until the point at which the fibres are extracted.
Not all linen is the same, and there are around twenty varieties grown in Western Europe. Solbiati chooses only the highest quality fibres to create fine fabrics that respect all the natural characteristics of the natural fibre.
Linen is the strongest of all the natural fibres used in textile products.
Its tensile strength is second only to that of special steels.
Its high cellulose content effectively reinforces the fibre, giving linen fabrics an extraordinary level of dimensional stability, high mechanical resistance and an unmatched lifespan.
Flax is able to retain quantities of moisture at least equivalent to that of its own dry weight, which makes it an ideal fibre for direct contact with the skin, whether in the form of clothing or bed linen. In-depth research has shown that linen sheets provide an unrivalled quality of sleep, due to its moisture absorption properties and long-lasting fresh feel.
The fact of being hollow allows linen fibre to play an important thermo-regulating role, which combined with is readiness to absorb moisture, makes it comfortable in all seasons. The finished fabric also boasts acoustic and insulating properties that are greatly appreciated in the home furnishing sector.
Linen has hypoallergenic features. It is a healthy material inasmuch as it causes no skin irritation. In certain cases, it has been seen to produce beneficial effects for sufferers of dermatological conditions. Anti-static, it eliminates dust; anti-pilling, it does not show signs of wear with use.