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FrontRunners: Flax of Life

William Kissel

Linen, the world’s oldest known cloth, never wore so well as it does in Loro Piana’s (212.980.7961) spring collection of linen pants ($435) and shirts ($335). In its quest for the ultimate linen, Loro Piana traveled to the Upperlands of Northern Ireland, where the fine, high-density cloth is still produced on slow-moving, century-old looms that weave only 75-centimeter-wide bolts. Modern weaving machinery is about twice as wide, which means Loro Piana’s precious material requires double the time and labor to produce. In addition, Loro Piana’s linen is woven with flax from Downpatrick, where the fiber is washed using a special technique that renders linen fabric that is among the world’s lightest and soft est, but alas, still not free from wrinkles.

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