Libeco, a heritage mill in Belgium
Nothing beats pure Belgian linen. Sensuous and sophisticated, it’s made from flax grown in the rich linen belt between Caen and Amsterdam. And if you ask us, nobody does it better than Libeco. This premier linen company has over 160 years of expertise crafting luxury linen. Unsurprisingly, they’ve been the industry leader for decades.
Libeco is behind our Linen Collection. We’ve used their organic linen to bring you an elegant range of natural-dyed blouses designed for everyday wear. Shop the collection, and learn more about why we choose Libeco linen below:
A Long Legacy
Libeco has a long, prestigious legacy in the Belgian heartland. Founded way back in 1858, Libeco’s journey began when the linen trade in Flanders was flourishing. Traders from across the globe sought the highly desirable Flemish linen — and two houses, Libeert and Lagae, were among those who specialized in its production.
Unlike many others, Libeco has withstood the test of time. The family-run mill has weathered industrial revolutions, catastrophic wars, and crippling depressions. As testament to this legacy, Libeco continues to operate in its original, 150-year old linen mill in Meulebeke today.
Much has changed. But at its heart, Libeco is still a labour of love by craftsmen who are deeply passionate about top-quality linen.
After 5 generations perfecting their craft, Libeco’s expertise is unrivalled.
Linen With a Sustainable DNA
Naturally, linen is highly environmentally friendly. The flax plant uses a fraction of the resources of other fibres — that’s water, pesticides, and fertiliser — and it even absorbs considerable carbon from the atmosphere.
But Libeco goes above and beyond for the future of our planet. They’re committed to using the most sustainable practices across every stage of production — and they practice what they preach.
Since 2014, Libeco has been officially carbon neutral. To offset any emissions, they actively support an accredited climate project in Uganda. Since then, they’ve continued to slash their emissions yearly. By 2017, for example, their carbon output was 40% less than in 2011.
The textile company also strives to be ‘no waste’. Every part of the flax plant has a purpose, from soap to cattle bedding, insulation, and paper.
One of linen’s few drawbacks is its high energy use. To counteract that, Libeco’s own solar panels supply about 25% of their energy cost. The rest, since 2013, is made up of renewables like wind energy.
Weaving linen is labour intensive and takes great skill. Across generations and using state-of-the-art technology, Libeco has refined their expertise to a fine art.
This is how they do it:
1. Planting the Flax
Flax is planted in March, after the last of the winter frosts. Libeco grows its flax in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the North of France. The rich soil and mild climate here make for ideal conditions, requiring less irrigation.
Did You Know? The flax used to make our linen at Má + Lin is cultivated in Normandy, France.
2. Harvesting the Flax
In July, Libeco’s machines pull the flax (rather than cut it) and lay it out horizontally. Then it goes through a retting process. Microorganisms loosen the fibers, which gives linen its beige colour. Around September, the flax is tied into large, 300kg bales.
3. Processing the Flax
Next, large rollers break open the flax and separate the fibers from wood particles, or ‘shives’. These shives are used for chipboards or animal bedding.
The ‘hackling’ process starts, in which thousands of pins comb the flax so only the purest flax fiber is left behind.
Rollers spin the yarn again to lengthen it. Then, this is wound and spun around a spool, which brings together different flax fibers. These are combined into bigger bobbins.
Did You Know? The yarn used for Má + Lin’s clothing is spun in Szczytno, in the north east of Poland.
5. Weaving the Linen
Loom machines weave the yarn day in and day out. Mechanics, technicians and weavers monitor the work and the humidity closely. The yarn then goes through quality control checks. Menders inspect and mend any flaws. After this, shearing blades remove any last impurities for a perfect finish.
Now, the fabric can be finished. It goes through processes like washing, dyeing, and bleaching. Lastly, it goes through a final quality control check, to make sure the colour is uniform.
● Belgian Linen:
Libeco is one of only 6 weavers to be certified Belgian Linen. Managed by the Belgian Linen Association, this exclusive label is awarded to weavers whose linen is woven in Belgium, and made from European flax fibres.
● Masters of Linen:
This quality label by the CELC guarantees that linen is 100% made in Europe, ensuring transparency and traceability.
● Certified Purveyor to the Court of Belgium:
Libeco is fit for a king! For more than 10 years, they’ve been the linen suppliers for the Royal Belgium Court.
● Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS):
Libeco’s organic linen, which we source, has won this highly-esteemed title. The GOTS has a set of very strict criteria, including the ethical treatment of workers, and sustainable practices.
Why We Choose To Work With Them
Given Libeco’s impressive credentials, we’re delighted to work with them. They’re true masters at what they do, with strict standards and firm passion.
Sustainability is a high priority to Libeco — just like us. Thanks to their certifications, we can rest assured that the organic linen we source from Libeco has had a minimal impact on the earth. It’s local too, so its footprint is much smaller.
Traceability is something we care deeply about. It’s important we know exactly where our linen comes from, and Libeco is very transparent about the origin of their fabric. We’re able to track our linen at every stage of its production: from flax in Normandy, to its spinning in Szczytno, Poland.
And five generations of craftsmanship have made Libeco artisanal experts. We respect the passion and dedication they put into producing luxury linen. Their tried-and-tested methods produce immaculate, long-lasting linen.
But don’t just take our word for it. Try it out for yourself! Our Linen Collection showcases the simplicity and beauty of organic Libeco linen, so you can get to wear a piece of the world’s best.