For thousands of years, linen has been an all-time favorite fabric due to its durability, breathability, and temperature-regulating properties. In addition to being all of those wonderful things, linen is especially pleasing to the eye… AKA why we love it so much. Whether it’s made up or not, a bed full of linen looks chic, and nothing is more comforting than wrapping yourself up in a linen throw. At Hawkins New York, making high quality products that look great and feel even better is the name of our game. With our linen bedding being one of the collections you love the most, we’re doing a deep, cozy dive into how Hawkins New York linen products are made.
LOOKING FOR LINEN
Linen fibers come from the humble flax plant, an ancient and beloved power source. Flax was one of the first crops to be cultivated, going as far back at 7000 BCE, with linen artifacts in Swiss lakes being dated back to 4000 BCE. Although these European artifacts are well documented as some of the first, ancient Egyptians are actually best known for weaving linen, and due to the dryness of Egypt’s deserts, original textiles – including linen housewares – are still preserved to this day.
Eventually, linen made its way across Europe and beyond, becoming a staple fabric for clothing in the Western world used for undergarments, sleepwear, bedsheets, and other household items. Today, the highest quality flax is grown in Northern Europe, whose climate is ideal for flax plants to truly thrive, and we’re happy to report that all of our linen products are made using 100% European linen, then woven a little farther south (more on that to come).
One of the many reasons linen has stuck around for thousands of years is because flax is an incredibly sustainable crop that uses fewer resources than cotton in the growing and manufacturing process. Today, this makes linen an ideal choice for environmentally-friendly homewares, while also saving money long term for both consumers and manufacturers. Of course linen is also a favorite fabric for the simple pleasures like its incredibly soft feel, its superior ability to stay crisp in the summers but warm in the winters, and its versatility in both your wardrobe and your kitchen.
THE HAWKINS WAY
We work with two family-owned factories in Portugal to weave, sew, and dye our linen products.
To eventually become the linen you know and love, flax has to be separated from its woody stalks, scutched to separate impurities, softened with water, and spun to become weavable flax fibers. Flax arrives at our factory partners in Portugal already spun and ready to weave into fabric magic. Once arrived, the flax is weaved using a Jacquard loom, a handloom invented in the 19th century by the French weaver Joseph-Marie Jacquard, which uses a series of punch cards to translate the design into woven fabric. After the fibers have been woven, they are cut and sewn into the product pattern provided, then stonewashed to give them that coveted super soft, perfectly worn in look. Only after this full process has finished are linen products dyed into your favorite Hawkins New York hues.
It takes anywhere from 10 to 30 people to make each linen product we design, depending on the scope of the production run and the needs of each partner's other clients. Because one of our key design elements is generosity, our linen duvets, for example, are about 2” larger than the linen duvets crafted for other clients by our factory partners, meaning the time to craft each item is increased by about 2%. Considering the total employee count at one of these partner facilities is about 100 employees, this brand value of generosity is present throughout the full lifecycle of our goods – from the design, to the manufacturing process, to its final destination in your home – which is one of the many reasons we love working with and highlighting these family-owned factories.
FROM PORTUGAL WITH LOVE
Our factory partners in Portugal are true collaborators in this homeware heaven we’ve created. With decades of expertise, there is simply no way our linen would be as special as it is without their vital participation in this process. One of these partners is a proper family affair in the manufacturing business for over 50 years, and is currently run by the son of their founder. And obviously we’re their favorite of their 65 clients. (Okay, we haven’t actually asked them that, but we believe the dedication and craftsmanship that shines through every single linen product we have on our website is enough proof.) For us, generosity lends itself to visibility and sharing knowledge, which is why we wanted to write this entry. Even if you were already planning on buying that new linen bedding, knowing that your softest, most aesthetically pleasing sheets are also made in a family-owned factory who’ve been in this business for half a century makes your purchase even sweeter.
Linen is a wonderful representation of what we believe a home should be. It’s comforting, it comes in all kinds of colors, shapes, and sizes, and it’s part of a rich history, bridging the past with the future and connecting us all to one another. When you buy Hawkins New York linen, you become a part of this story too, and that’s our favorite part.