Unveiling the Unexpected: The Beetling Story Behind our Brown Thomas Collection

Unveiling the Unexpected: The Beetling Story Behind our Brown Thomas Collection

As we unveil our new collection at Brown Thomas, we wanted to share the story that inspired this new collection and the intricate narrative that informs our design philosophy. At Kindred of Ireland, we do more than simply draw upon our rich Irish linen past; we seek to invigorate it with innovation, crafting a distinctive narrative around Irish linen that goes beyond mere commemoration. Instead, we desire to breathe new life into it, infusing the traditional 'linen' brand concept with a fresh, unexpected aesthetic.

The Unexpected

In a word, it’s about the unexpected: the unexpected beauty and structure of materials, the unexpected blend of traditional and modern aesthetics, and the unexpected stories each piece tells. One of the ways we bring this to life is through our beetled Irish linen. This unique fabric, a product of an ancient technique steeped in rich tradition, seamlessly marries the past with a distinctly modern edge. The creation of such pieces doesn't just embrace the echoes of the past, it imbues them with a sense of anticipation and excitement, offering a modern twist on the heritage we hold dear.

Beetling: An Ancient Tradition

For centuries, beetling has been an integral part of our Irish heritage, a technique that can be traced back to the early 17th century, if not earlier. Our ancestors developed this laborious process to add a characteristic lustre and smoothness to linen, enhancing its aesthetic appeal and durability. In medieval Ireland, linen was not just a fabric; it was a central part of life, used extensively in domestic products like furnishings, tablecloths, and bed linens. The objective was to create a more rigid and lustrous material that could withstand everyday wear and tear, while also capturing the eye with its gleaming finish.

The process of beetling involves dampening the linen before subjecting it to hours of pounding by wooden mallets – or "beetles" – in a beetling mill. The consistent and rhythmic compacting of the weave results in a linen with a unique finish. This ancient technique, passed down by our ancestors, imparts a surprising sheen to the linen, giving it an unexpected structure that catches the light beautifully.

Beetling, thus, transforms the humble linen into a fabric of beauty and strength, a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of our forebears. The artistry and expertise involved in this process are a reflection of their deep respect for the materials provided by nature, as well as their determination to enhance and improve upon them. Through our beetled linen, we are not just creating garments; we are carrying forward the legacy of our ancestors, honouring their skills and dedication and capturing the balance between the flexible and the structured, the past and the future. Indeed, the last remaining 'beetlers' continue this craft in local linen mill, William Clark.

The Beetled Linen Experience

Our journey with beetled linen began with our debut collection, the AW20 Folklore Collection, which introduced our signature piece: the Black Beetled Cadhla. This shirt exemplifies the ethos of easy-wear and timeless style that Kindred of Ireland embodies. The beetling process lends a crisp, sheen-like feel to the fabric, creating a more structured piece than typically expected from linen. Our AW Cloud Coat, inspired by Ireland's infamous cloudy skies, showcases the water resistance and greater structure achieved by beetling, complemented with an asymmetrical structure for a modern and distinctive silhouette.

As we continued to evolve and innovate, we expanded our use of beetled linen in the AW21 Beetled Collection. Here, we undertook the ambitious endeavour of creating bespoke beetled linen, collaborating with local mills to produce a stunning tartan pattern (footage above). This collection marked a major milestone for us, offering tailored pieces such as our tartan suit and tartan vest that were wholly unique.

Pushing Linen Boundaries

We were keen to continue to push the boundaries for AW22, working with the fantastic William Clark to produce an innovative new line: dry beetled metallic linen. This fabric encapsulates everything we stand for: a modern interpretation of an age-old tradition passed down through generations in Ireland. Building on the expertise of William Clark, we have been able to breathe life into this unique fabric.

The dry-beetled metallic linen, a first of its kind, that not only stands out for its shimmering gold finish, but also for its unique texture and structure achieved through beetling. While gold coats might be a familiar sight in the world of fashion, a gold beetled linen coat is an exclusive!

Refining the Craft

The innovation does not stop there. Together with the mill, we've refined the process even further, successfully introducing an extraordinary metallic silver variation of the dry beetled linen. The subtle sheen and rigid structure of this fabric offer an unexpected and captivating aesthetic for our new collection. This refined product reflects our ongoing commitment to balance tradition with innovation, making every effort to keep alive the essence of Irish linen while offering fresh, never-seen-before styles.

Bridging the Gap Between Tradition and Innovation

The application of beetled Irish linen in clothing hasn’t been done in Ireland for centuries. With our collection, we're offering a genuinely unique aesthetic for a linen brand – unexpected, perhaps, but deeply important to us. We're breathing life into ancient techniques, bridging the gap between tradition and innovation, between past and future.

By offering these unique pieces, we invite you to share in our love for Irish linen, its stories and its heritage. We're not just creating clothing; we're celebrating heritage, innovation, and the beautiful blend of the old and new.

The new collection is available exclusively at Brown Thomas, both in their Grafton Street store and on their website.

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