3 Reasons Why Irish Linen Is the Best Handkerchief Material
From the outset, we have sought to create the highest quality, lowest impact handkerchiefs possible.
The material we have found to best achieve this goal is 100% Irish Linen.
What Is Irish Linen?
Irish Linen is the certified name given to linen woven in Ireland to the quality standards of the Irish Linen Guild. The certification can only be used to mark genuine Irish Linen products spun and woven in Ireland.
What Makes Irish Linen Different Than Other Linen?
Irish linen has a finer and denser weave, a softer feel, and fewer slubs and corrections than average linens. This is due to the skills and expertise that have been passed down from generation to generation, with technical refinements made along the way – creating a linen product that cannot be matched elsewhere.
From linen expert Annie Feng:
"This is from my extensive experience of sampling literally hundreds of linen all over the world. Whenever I hold Irish linen in my hands I immediately recognize that I have something special."
Why Is Irish Linen the Best Handkerchief Material?
Three reasons why the best quality handkerchiefs are made of Irish Linen:
- High Performance
- Historic Craftsmanship
- Sustainably Sourced
The most important characteristic of a functional handkerchief is how it performs in daily-use. In our opinion, there are four critical attributes that the performance of a daily-use handkerchief must be graded upon.
- High Absorbency
- Rapid Drying
We believe that the best handkerchief maximizes these four attributes – and no other fabric strikes a balance between them quite like Irish Linen.
Irish Linen sits at the equilibrium.
This is important because both softness and durability as well as high absorbency and rapid drying are relationships that are materially at odds with one another – meaning, improvements in one leads to losses in the other.
However, Irish Linen is capable of achieving incredible fineness without compromising on durability. And linen's porous weave naturally dries fast, which allows us to use a slightly thicker fabric for our handkerchiefs – unlocking additional absorbency without losing drying speed.
The history of Irish Linen has been a 300+ year commitment to the production of the finest linen in the world. From the 18th-20th century, Ireland was the global center for linen production and the direction of the country was strongly tied to the demand for linen.
Today much has changed, however Irish Linen still remains a rare display of generational mastery and the opposite of fast fashion.
While the rest of the world has sought to use low-cost and environmentally harmful materials, the Irish linen industry has persisted in producing textiles of uncompromised quality – reserving it's place as the best linen in the world.
The expertise of Irish Linen goes beyond the linen weavers to the flax farmers themselves (the natural plant fiber used to weave linen).
Every step in the flax-growing process is carefully considered. Throughout the plant’s evolution, farmers are continually adapting to weather conditions and relying on their judgment to determine the precise moment for each step in the cultivation process.
Northwestern Europe is considered to be the best flax growing region in the world. This is because the area's climate and soil content are perfectly suited to flax cultivation. Flax is the only textile fiber indigenous to Europe and many flax farms have existed in the region for over a century.
The maritime climate allows farmers to dew-ret their flax, which is a natural process that, among other things, improves the antimicrobial and antioxidative properties of the fibers. Whereas elsewhere, flax is retted using an oftentimes chemically-intensive process to achieve a similar outcome, without bestowing the same material benefits.
Eco Properties of Flax
- No Irrigation - Flax is grown from rainwater alone (without the need for additional irrigation)
- Restorative Crop - Flax imparts a naturally positive effect on the soil – improving the quality of the following crop by 20-30%
- Zero Waste - Flax is a true zero-waste product; as when it is harvested, the plant is not cut, but mechanically pulled from the root in order to maintain the full length of the fiber. Leftover seeds, oil, straw, and fibers are used to make items such as soaps, cattle feed, paper, and more.
- Non-GMO - European Flax is grown free of GMOs and requires minimal input in the form of agrochemicals or fertilizers
In comparison to other fabrics, a study weighing the environmental impact of all textile fibers ranked flax the lowest across multiple categories including, damage to ecosystem quality, human health, and energy use per kilogram of fiber. The study concludes by stating:
"Flax consumes less energy than cotton and all of the other fibers under consideration."
The EUROPEAN FLAX certification guarantees European traceability from flax growth to fiber, endorsed by the entire Western European fiber industry in a common Charter signed by each producer.
The certification ensures a natural and sustainable fiber that is dew-retted, biodegradable, and carbon negative and cultivated without artificial irrigation, waste, or genetic modification.
Masters of Linen
The MASTERS OF LINEN certification is the label given to a select number of European spinners and weavers that meet the quality and production standards of the European Confederation of Linen and Hemp – going further to certify 100% European traceability from flax growth to finished linen fabric.
From the first touch, the intention and expertise behind 100% Irish Linen is felt.
The material is beyond competition when it comes to handkerchief performance, and the beautiful thing is, it improves with age. Irish Linen handkerchiefs become softer and more absorbent over time.
Lastly, our handkerchiefs are born from the world's best flax fiber, one of the lowest impact textiles on the planet. We are proud to support artisanal flax farms in Europe who have grown the best quality flax for centuries, the right way.
The quest to create the highest quality, lowest impact handkerchiefs has given us tremendous insight into the beauty of the European workmanship and the material properties of all textile fibers – searching for the optimal balance of handkerchief performance attributes.
With this knowledge, we can wholeheartedly say that Irish Linen is the best handkerchief material.
We think you'll agree.