A 100 years ago, Ireland was the undisputed centre of linen production worldwide: a position unchallenged by sheer output and the superior quality of linen fabric produced. In an average year, enough linen was woven in Ireland to wrap a nine-foot (2.75m) wide belt of cloth around the earth’s equator.
Fast forward to today, the Irish linen industry is a mere shadow of its former self. The majority of weaving houses have closed and with the few that remain the output is defined by prim handkerchiefs, wedding ring cushions and christening gowns all adorned with lace, shamrocks and Celtic flourishes. The market is also littered with products imported into Ireland and touted under the guise of Irish linen.
In the same way Champagne must be made within a certain region in France to be able to use the name, the enviable reputation of Irish linen is promoted and protected by The Irish Linen Guild which was founded in 1928. The descriptor “Irish Linen” can only ever be used if the fabric is woven in Ireland. Fabric which is woven outside Ireland cannot be described and sold as Irish linen.
Enter FRANCIS M., a young Irish challenger brand who recently launched, is determined to put this luxurious fabric back on its rightful pedestal and in a way that is starkly different from its competition. The FRANCIS M. work ethos is key: the simpler the design, the more exacting the craft. They eschew unnecessary swirls and flourishes in favour of a restrained simplicity that is elegant, appropriately traditional, timeless and loved by the truly discerning.
Quality linens enjoy a very consistent yarn diameter with minimal slub – or small knots that occur randomly along the weave. The softness of the water in Irish streams, which is harnessed for finishing, results in cloth of enviable handle (feel) and appearance. Francis M.’s finely and evenly woven linen bedding is tensile strong and durable. It increases in strength when wet, allowing it to stand up to repeated laundering even at boil temperatures. While luxury cotton bedding usually lasts around three years before looking tired, showing signs of wear and needing to be replaced at further expense, Francis M.’s Irish linens are only starting to blossom. They feel softer with each laundering, become gossamer silky smooth to the touch and can be passed on to the younger generations as an heirloom. A wise, and genteel, investment.
Contributor: Alexandra Pinhon Images: courtesy of FRANCIS M.
A client of Magellan PR, FRANCIS M., purveyors of the finest Irish household linens. Taking inspiration from the long history of linen making on the Emerald Isle, FRANCIS M. works with handpicked artisans who make linen in the traditional manner. Their collections are authentic, luxuriously useful, styled on the side of utilitarian simplicity and are intended to become heritage items, used and cherished for years to come. FRANCIS M. offers two seasonal linen bedding weights – summer and winter. For products, pricing and purchasing, please click the website and follow them on Instagram.