Funding grant will ‘breathe new life’ into Irish firm’s use of historic linen manufacturing process

AN Irish textile manufacturer has been awarded a prestigious grant which will allow them to develop their signature linen process – which is one of the oldest still in operation in Ireland.

Northern Ireland based William Clark and Sons has announced that they have been awarded the British Fashion and Textile Technology (BFTT) R&D Grant to pioneer sustainable and innovative developments with their signature Beetling process.

The firm admits the grant will allow them to “breathe contemporary life and relevance into the historic process of Beetling – a now globally unique finish created through mechanical pounding using beech hammers which produces a highly desirable sheen on linen, unrivalled by modern finishing equipment”.

They added: “Traditionally this product is used in tailoring for seam reinforcement due to the fine linen that the process creates making it almost invisible when used in garment construction.”

Beetled linen found new fame and popularity when it was featured heavily in the Alexander McQueen SS20 collection, stepping out from being hidden in garments to being a decorative fabric.

White Beetled linen dress by Alexander McQueen (PIC: Alexander McQueen)

The traditional finish is created entirely naturally with starch which is fragile and can easily mark which limits its usage outside special items.

The project is set to last 15 months and will research eco and sustainable products that can embed inherent stain resistant qualities in the finished product while staying true to the historic nature of the process.

William Clark & Sons will be working with local weavers based in Northern Ireland to produce a sustainable collection of fabrics.

Creative Director, Duncan Neil said: “Working with BFTT, the University of the Arts and Leeds University will give us access to up-to-date knowledge and research on eco chemistry which will be hugely beneficial in progressing the beetled finish.”

A Project Lead post will be created to manage the project and partners with the new range of beetled linens set to secure the future of this historic process within Northern Ireland.

Duncan added: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be the first Northern Irish business to be awarded the BFTT grant and we look forward to championing innovation within the region and Irish Linen industry.”

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