It took me a few years to fully wrap myself around the idea of using linen for my fitted bed sheets. I opted for organic cotton because it felt soft and gentle against my skin. But now, being more educated about the ecological benefits of linen, I can honestly say that I use more linen products than cotton in my bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and upholstery. The turning point for me was when I touched the beauty of the Libeco Home collection and fell in love with its rumpled, lived-in look. Libeco Home creates linen products designed for everyday living, products that inspire us to slow down and enjoy life. Linen is inherently ecological, comfortable and forever beautiful.
Q & A with Libeco Home Director, Edward Reisert
Jill Heller: Tell us about your history with Libeco Home.
Edward Reisert: I started 7 years ago, after getting a call from a long-time friend and former colleague that she was hiring someone, and I had to come work for this great company she had joined. We had worked together for a major brand retailer for years, and the difference of a small family owned and operated company that cares about their employees was striking. In learning more about them, and feeling and seeing their amazing linen, I was ‘sold’!
JH: Please tell me more about your passion for the brand and its products.
ER: See above! Everything about what they do is focused on producing a great product sustainably, while believing that the work/life balance of their employees is tantamount to their success. My passion grew as I learned more about what they do to make their linen the best, and when I began to buy and use their home textiles. Besides the beauty and aesthetic value, I was floored at how amazing everything functions. I started to buy so much, and speak so gushingly about it, my partner coined it ‘the magic fabric’!
JH: If a customer is new to the brand, what do you recommend starting with from the collection?
ER: Literally anything she would choose from us would likely perform beyond any other vendor’s product that she may have experienced previously. Our kitchen towels are a great start, since they are low cost and everyone uses them daily. I was amazed at the level of absorption they offered, once I purchased a set and began using them. Mind you, even the first day they impressed me, but the true test is what they’ve now become with continued use! They continue to soften, and get more absorbent with each washing! There is an inherent quality to linen, it absorbs 20% of it’s weight in moisture before it feels damp. So that soggy, wet feeling you get with other towels forcing you to grab another dry one does not occur. I can continue using it during meal prep, then I drape it over the warm oven while eating, and because of linen’s ability to dry quickly, it is bone dry ready for clean up after the meal! Prior to linen towels, I was using multiple towels for a meal. Now just one does a better job than multiple non linen towels!
JH: What is the notable difference between the retailers and clients in Europe as compared to those in the United States?
ER: The Europeans in general subscribe to a ‘less is more’ mentality. They prefer to buy one of very good quality that will offer functionality and longevity, over a low cost and owning many of an item. They also do not use a flat sheet, rather the duvet acts as this on their bed. Dressing a bed is much less ‘fussy’ than here, less pillows, and no bed skirts. They make use of some great sized oversized shams that we offer to our US customers, a ‘super king’ measuring 28x36”, and a ‘grand euro’ at 32” square. These offer better coverage on Queen and King beds, allowing for less pillows, and by the way, less cost on 2 rather than 3 shams!
JH: Who is your ideal customer?
ER: Anyone who wants the best. Whether you have a ton of money, or are on a limited budget. Those that have money shop us for the best they can get, those smart consumers on a limited budget know that due to our longevity, the ‘long run’ costs are lower on a quality product that you don’t buy over and over! The other consumer who finds us is the eco-conscious consumer. Linen is a great fabric for its gentle footprint on the environment, and when buying from Libeco, it is produced with every effort available to create as pure a fabric as possible, with as little environmental impact as we can have. We are a carbon neutral mill, a huge accomplishment for a mill!
JH: What are your Favorite pieces?
ER: My personal favorite is our foutas, or flat weave towels. I love the incredible absorbency and tactile surface which is amazing for exfoliating the skin while drying off after a shower. Usually purchased in the US as a gorgeous throw, or used as a pareo, a tablecloth, a picnic blanket, or whatever the customer thinks of! I find our ‘Black Stripe’ colorway gorgeous with it’s combination of graphite, brown and flax striping.
JH: What advice would you give to a new client?
ER: Mainly I advise new customers about proper care of linen. Most strong detergents today are made for man-made fibers or blends, so they use rather harsh ingredients to get those petroleum based fabrics clean. These are not necessary for fine natural fibers, and are actually destructive to them. Detergents today contain enzymes to eat through carbon based stains, but they will also eat into the fiber itself. Optic whiteners and ‘color-safe’ bleach are also bad for natural fibers. Linen only needs a mild laundry soap, and lots of water. With the amazing absorbency there is a tendency to not have enough water in the machine to get linen clean. You should use the extra-large load button and not fill the drum, or use a pre-rinse cycle to allow the linen to absorb, but still have enough water to get it clean. Drying time also needs to be adjusted, as linen releases moisture much faster than most textiles. Try 20 mins on low to medium heat. Over-drying increases wrinkles and shrinkage.
Libeco Home is a division of Libeco-Lagae, located in Meulebeke, Belgium.
JH: The newest Fall 2016 Napoli Vintage color palette consists of Optic White, Camel, Olive, Cinnamon, Navy and Positano, and will blended beautifully with your current color scheme.
To request a catalogue or to see the full collection, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org