The Difference Between Belgian Linen and “Belgian Linen”
31st May 2017
Certain regions of the world are known for producing products of distinctive quality. Real champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France. Per European law, only cheesemongers from a specific region in Italy can sell true parmesan cheese. And, to earn the name bourbon, whiskey must be made within the United States, stored in a new charred oak barrel, and its mash must contain at least 51% corn. What makes these products so special? Winemakers speak of terroir, the unique combination of climate and soil properties that makes certain types of wine distinctive, but the craftsmanship behind these goods is just as important.
And in the world of fabrics, few products are more prized than genuine Belgian Linen. Thanks to the famous craftsmanship of Belgian artisans and an ideal growing climate, this fabric is uniquely soft, breathable, and long lasting.
When shopping for Belgian Linens, you might think that anything described as Belgian linen meets these high standards. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll end up purchasing an inferior product. There are certain marks of quality that you need to be looking for in this kind of fabric. One of the leading signs of quality is a MASTERS OF LINEN brand mark. This is a registered mark and a sign of excellent quality fabric made in Europe. In order to be labeled as such, the product must be composed entirely of 100% European Flax fiber.
But it takes a little bit more for linen to pass the Belgian Linen standard. In addition to the flax fibers being taken from plants grown in Europe, the entire production process must take place in Belgium or Western Europe for any linen to be considered 100% Belgian Linen (and, yes, that’s Linen with a capital “L”).
Here’s where it gets tricky: most of the world’s finest linen is grown in Western Europe. A lot of this flax will be harvested and sent to Asia for spinning and weaving. This type of linen is still called European flax linen. In some cases, the label might even say, “Made from Belgian flax linen.” So unless you see that Masters of Linen mark, be very careful before you pay more for “Belgian linen.”
What else should you look for when buying Belgian Linen sheets and fabrics?
What Makes True Belgian Linen So Fine?
Flax is one of the strongest natural fibers in the world. In fact, it’s two to three times as strong as cotton. Its friction resistance and thick fibers allow for a soft, long-lasting product you’ll treasure for years to come. The standards for Belgian linen are also extremely high, but not always in the places you might think. For example, the thread count may be lower than your standard cotton sheets. Linen fiber is derived from the middle of a flax plant, which makes it naturally thicker than cotton fibers. Thus, the average thread count for linen fabric is between 80 and 150. Normally this would be considered low for cotton sheets, but it’s important to remember that thread count isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality.
The first thing you need to look for when purchasing Belgian linen is 100% natural linen. Blends tend to mar some of the greatest qualities of linen, including its breathability and high absorbency. In addition, pure linen fabric will be both lint- and allergen-free.
Buying Belgian Linen might be a new venture for you, but it’s certainly a worthwhile investment. Linen fiber becomes softer with every wash and use, but it doesn’t break down as quickly as other fabrics might. This is a result of a higher absorbency rate and several other qualities of linen. Unlike cotton, linen has the potential to last anywhere from two to three decades if properly cared for