The World of Linen
Apr 18 2018
Categories: Design Science
Linen was invented in Ancient Egypt. It is one of the most prestigious fabrics in the continent's history. Unfortunately, modern Africa did not keep up this tradition and most fabrics used here are imported from all corners of the globe--especially Asia.
The world of linen is a complex world with no standards. Especially here in SA. Many people who sell fabric in stores will tell us we have cotton linen. But that is like saying you have gold silver. And unless you are speaking about a cotton linen mix, cotton is cotton and linen is linen. Ancient Egyptians were the first known civilization to use linen in their garments. And linen comes from a plant (flax), (a different plant to cotton). 100% Linen is no good for us as it is very prone to creasing. The best linen for us is when linen is mixed with synthetics like Viscose to keep it straight and smooth. Ramie linen is actually NOT linen, it is Ramie made from a very similar plant fiber from the flowering plant Urticaceae. God Knows if what they call Ramie in SA is actually Ramie. But it is the most popular type of linen on sale in SA. We, however, use it in 30% of our designs.
We are linen fanatics and find its properties ideal for African attire. It is cool to beat the heat and works very well with embroidery. It is not light like most cotton and thus can be creatively used in many more designs than cotton would allow us. At Ocacia we have special premium linen made just for us that we use in some of our garments. It primarily only comes in Black and manufactured just for us in South Africa. We call it premium linen to contrast against Ramie linen which is also used in designs where premium linen can be used. But Ramie and "Premium" linen (formerly known as a Cassidy) are all "premium" in price. Actually, Ramie costs 25% more than our premium linen, but it weighs less and thus costs us less in total when postage is considered. Ramie is also more common, Cassidy is not (another reason we call it premium). It has a beautiful quality and thread count and does not crease easily. The downside is that it is prone to a phenomenon called "Shine" when ironed and can be heavy. Cassidy looks best in Black or White, brown versions of the fabric are unimpressive and we do not use them.