Despite its popularity, 100% French flax linen is actually quite rare. The harvesting process to make this fabric is very slow and detailed, so it’s not produced in mass quantities like much of what we buy today.
Because of this, there are many dupes on the market—so the linens you come across while shopping will vary greatly in texture and quality. If you’ve decided that you want to invest in authentic flax linen, it’s helpful to know exactly what to look for to ensure you’re getting the real deal.
Here are 5 easy ways to test for real, authentic linen:
1. Get up close and personal.
First and foremost, the best way to test for real linen is to touch the material for yourself. As you feel the fabric, there are a few key things you’ll want to analyze:
- Sturdiness: Linen is a very durable fabric. While it should feel soft to the touch, you should also be able to sense that it will hold up over time. If the fabric you’re looking at seems thin, worn-down, or ragged, chances are it’s not authentic linen.
- Slubs: As you analyze the fabric, you should notice small round particles that appear as imperfections in the weave. These are called ‘slubs,’ and they occur naturally in real linen. When you run your hand over high-quality linen, you’ll feel these tiny little bumps.
- Temperature: Because it has a looser weave, linen traps less heat than other materials. This is why it’s favored for being one of the most ‘breathable’ fabrics. When touching real linen, it should feel cool and crisp.
2. Pay attention to wrinkling.
Authentic flax linen has naturally occurring wrinkles—this is what gives it an effortless, lived-in look. This is because linen doesn’t have high elasticity, so it holds onto creases. Many other fabrics are wrinkle-resistant and will ‘bounce’ back into shape.
If you’re looking at fabric and it appears to be perfectly ironed, chances are it’s not real linen. That’s not to say you can’t reduce the amount of wrinkles in linen, however—throwing it in the dryer on a low heat setting will relax the material so it has a smoother appearance.
3. Do the water test.
Linen is very absorbent, and it’s known for its ability to wick away moisture. It’s amazing for keeping you cool and dry, which is why it’s such a popular choice during the summer months.
A simple, yet very effective way to test for real linen is to add a drop or two of water to the fabric and see what happens. If it’s authentic linen, the fabric will absorb the water and dry very quickly. However, if it’s fake, the water spill will take much longer to absorb and disappear.
4. Does it soften with time?
This quality is hard to test for at first glance, but it’s a tell-tale sign of whether the fabric is authentic linen or not. 100% flax linen becomes softer with every wash, which is one of the main reasons it’s so highly favored.
The best way to check for this before making a purchase is to do your research. Look into the brand and read up on their process—do they explain how they go about harvesting and manufacturing? If they don’t, this could be a red flag.
Another thing to consider is customer reviews. If customers are raving about the increasing softness of the fabric over time, this is a great sign.
5. Observe the coloring.
Last but certainly not least, the color of the fabric can give away whether or not it’s quality linen. To test for this, lay out the fabric as much as you can. If the color is splotchy or you notice any yellowing, you could be looking at fake linen.
Here at Linen Shoppe, we offer 11 different colors to suit any type of space. They can also be mixed and matched to create your own custom set. Since linens are dyed in small batches and not mass produced, you might notice some slight color variation—but any type of splotches or yellowing should be a no-go.
Thinking about investing in real, authentic flax linen? Visit our shop and start browsing.