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New UK Project to Make Homegrown Linen Jeans

From new denim constructions, weights and washes to the steps global mills are taking to reduce impact, Rivet's SS23 In Season Look Book: Denim & Trims has everything you need to know for a successful denim season.

A new collaborative fashion project in the U.K. aims to launch homegrown jeans made from flax.

Regenagri, the regenerative agriculture group from Control Union, announced last week the launch of Homegrown/Homespun, an initiative to turn unused land in Blackburn, an industrial town located in Lancashire, England, into a field of flax and woad.

The linen spun and woven from the flax, and the natural indigo dye derived from the woad—an ancient source of blue dye—will be used to produce denim jeans in time for the British Textile Biennial in October 2021.

The project is being run by designer Patrick Grant, a judge on the U.K. television show “Great British Sewing Bee” and the founder of Community Clothing, a social enterprise focused on creating and sustaining jobs in the U.K.’s textile regions. The jeans will be part of Community Clothing’s commercial collection.

North West England Fibreshed, a non-profit organization working to rebuild regional manufacturing by developing regional and regenerative fiber systems, and Super Slow Way, a community arts program in Lancashire, are lending their support to the project as well.

The pilot project’s mission is to restore the land around old textile mills and canals in Blackburn, and help increase local biodiversity. Over time, Homegrown/Homespun aims to build communities of fiber and dye growers, processors, makers, repairers and recyclers across the region to produce homegrown textiles and garments in a healthy and regenerative textile ecosystem.

Regenerative farming methods can help decrease the burden of fiber production on the wider environment, said Harry Farnsworth, projects lead for regenagri.

“The textiles industry accounts for 10 percent of global carbon emissions and the intensive manner that fiber crops are produced in is leading to mass land degradation and decreasing biodiversity on a global scale,” he said.

Fibers such as cotton, flax and wool, however, can be farmed ways that enriches the land, and consequently, encourage greener supply chains, better working conditions and employment opportunities. “As more fashion brands are starting to move towards fibers that have been produced in a regenerative way, we are here to support them on that journey,” he said.

In addition to the denim collection, a Homegrown/Homespun linen line will be developed over the following two years and unveiled at the 2023 British Textile Biennial.

The entire process—from harvesting to weaving—will take place in Blackburn and will allow the local volunteers to take part in the “ancient methods of preparing and extracting the linen and the indigo and learning how to spin, weave and dye the cloth.”

“Homegrown/Homespun is an amazing project with far reaching benefits for the environment and nature, for the health and cohesion of the local community, and for the stimulation of a local green economy,” Grant said. “And in doing this we’ll create new habitats for wildlife, soil systems will be regenerated, and we hope hundreds if not thousands of people will engage with nature in a meaningful and positive way.”

The project kicked off last Friday. Organizers are currently looking for volunteers to help with sowing the seeds during the spring and harvesting the flax and woad in the fall.