Since Sonia and I started working on creating STABLE over 6 years ago, we have always had at the core of what we do, the preservation and promotion of Irish Linen. For us, Irish Linen is a magnificent fabric that has deep roots in our collective Irish history north and south. Flax, the plant from which linen is made, has been grown in Ireland successfully since the 11th century and records of cloth and preserved clothing from this time exist. Our climate suits this hardy beautiful grass and the plant has so many uses in its own right.
The huge growth and success of the Irish Linen industry came about by a confluence of circumstances. With the eviction of the Hugeneots from France around 1675, many of these skilled people arrived and settled across Ireland bringing with them their skills and machinery. Along with the incentivisation schemes put in place by the English government to encourage growers, processors and weavers, by the mid 19th century Ireland became the largest producer of linen in the world, supplying the royal courts and palaces across the empire. It was Northern Ireland where the industry was concentrated and there were many thousands of people thriving from the associated works. However, due to many reasons over the following century including cheaper supplies from abroad and world wars, the industry went into a rapid decline.
Today there are very few companies still weaving linen on the island of Ireland. Sadly we do not now grow flax commercially in the way we used to. The quality of Irish Linen lies in the weaving. Much of the cloth woven in Ireland is done so on looms from these earlier times. The finishing skills are also key to the quality of the final cloth. At STABLE we wanted to find new uses, new ways to wear and new ways to look at Irish Linen, to put it back on the map as a fresh new choice for accessories and for home. We developed initially our unique and diverse collection of scarves, unisex, with many ways to wear them in bright and brilliant colours and weaves. Today we have the largest collection of Irish Linen scarves in the world. In our store in Dublin, we champion this wonderful fabric every day, telling anyone who will listen, the many benefits to ourselves and our planet. Our collections at STABLE include Irish Linen for the table, for bath, for bed and for clothing too.
Irish linen is created from a 100% natural plant-based fibre, is naturally antibacterial, biodegradable, hard-wearing, and good for skin sensitivities and wool allergy people. The flax plant from which the linen yarns are spun is light on the land and needs less water to grow. The oil and seeds are hugely important staples for human and animal health. The flowers are a very important crop for pollinators too. All in all, it is all good.
For us using this natural plant-based Irish fabric make sense for our business, for our customers, for our Irish linen weavers and for our world. The bonus is, that every designed item of Irish linen that comes out of STABLE is a piece to enjoy, wear, gift and be proud of, knowing that we are collectively helping to preserve this industry and tradition for the future.