by Cassie Quinn
Can regenerative agricultural practices demonstrate more economic value for flax/linen in the textile industry?
About the project
There are many qualities that make flax an attractive source to be used for textiles. It does not need irrigation systems to support growth and it can thrive simply on rainwater. Due to the natural antibacterial properties of the plant, almost no pesticides are needed for the crop to grow. The fibres have high tensile strength and are extremely durable. Flax was a once-thriving industry in Ireland but has almost completely disappeared. Currently, flax accounts for only 1% of the global fibre market share. Inflaxuation seeks to challenge the perception of how we make use of flax in the fashion and textile industry.
Flax (Linum usitatissimum) is a plant of the family Linaceae, cultivated both for its fibre, from which linen yarn and fabric are made, and for its nutritious seeds. Flax is very complex and composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, lignin and other components.
Flax leather samples.
Embossed flax leather.
Fertiliser sequins, pigmented with natural dye wastewater.
My research began looking at a farm in Ireland called Mallon Linen, which is reintroducing flax into their land located in County Tyrone. They use regenerative agricultural practices to grow flax, using a crop rotation of potatoes, oats, flax and grass.
Inflaxuation investigates how we can create more value for flax by creating a wider range of textiles using only the materials sourced from the crop rotation that Mallon Linen has implemented. I have created a textile collection of flax leather, flax fur, flax lace, starch buttons and fertiliser sequins and used a range of techniques to create my regenerative textile samples.
Woven linen fabric at Flaxlands.
Biodesign is about looking back as much as it is about looking to the future. We have a natural fibre that is hailed as the most sustainable and the oldest known fibre to be used as textile, yet it makes up less than 1% of the fibre market. A lot of incredible advances in textiles within the field of biodesign focus on growing new materials that are undoubtedly incredible innovations. I want to demonstrate that we can use this field to improve our existing crops in a way that is regenerative and brings us closer to nature, utilising flax in more ways within the fashion industry.
Cassie is a multidisciplinary fashion and textile designer with an interest in local and regenerative materials. She uses systems thinking to divert waste streams and create textiles.Her practice implements the use of a wide range of techniques such as embroidery, natural dyeing, materials science, laser-cutting, 3-D printing, fabric manipulation and embossing. She has been awarded semi-finalist Mayor’s Entrepreneur Award 2020 & 2021, winner UAL Social Enterprise Programme Award and BYOB Haberdashers Scholar.