The Household Linen of the Vosges : Fleuron of the textile industry in France
The Household Linen universe is made of passion, know-how and creativity. From embroidery, to laser printing, to increasingly innovative dyeing techniques and the search for new shades of color and trends in interior design, textile companies in the Vosges compete ingenuity to remain competitive with the global market for household linen and satisfy its loyal customers. The giant companies of interior design offer prices always more attractive, but what allows the brands of Household Linen of the Vosges to remain in activity over the decades is the worldwide reputation of their quality products. Indeed, the linen of the Vosges is alongside other French textile traditions such as Calais lace, Basque canvas, prints of Alsace and many more. And for good reason, the department of the Vosges is the cradle of the cotton industry but also of linen in France.
Indeed, the history of the textile industry of the Vosges is a tradition that dates back to the 13th century when the region that today corresponds to Lorraine has specialized in spinning and weaving textile materials. Initially, natural materials such as wool, hemp and flax were used to make bed linen, fabrics that will be used to make clothes but also household linen such as napkins and tablecloths.
It was only in the 18th century that cotton fiber was exploited for the first time by a small company in Epinal in 1756. But quickly the whole region of the Vosges and its mountains will become a flagship of the cotton industry in France. The manufacture is at first artisanal and provides work to the women who equip their homes with cotton spinners. But quickly, in the era of industrialization, factories flourish replacing old mills, close to water sources that provide the energy necessary for their activity. A century after the opening of the very first company, there are no less than 110 factories including 28 factories dedicated to spinning, 72 factories dedicated to weaving and 10 factories which combine the two activities. All these factories employ some 15,000 workers.
The textile industry and its factories will then punctuate the life of the inhabitants of the Vosges, providing them with a job but also other considerable social benefits such as housing for workers’ families, nurseries for their children, training centers and even retirement homes, holiday centers, and places offering entertainment around culture and sport. It is a real social development for the whole region, which draws its inspiration from the paternalism of companies, in great need of manpower and ready to do anything to provide their workers with better working conditions.
At the peak of the textile industry in the Vosges, in the early 1930s, there were almost 250 production factories employing more than 40,000 workers. But the rise in imports and particularly in the textile sector that will occur in France after the adoption of the principle of trade in 1951 will be a real drag on their growth. It is with big investments and efforts in terms of productivity, research and innovation in the quality of their products, creativity but also by exploring new markets that textile Vosges factories will implement a policy voluntarist who will benefit them ! Thus, the Vosges department will become the main cotton producer in France, responsible for more than half of the national production. At the same time, the Linen products know a great success and a very good world reputation around Gérardmer who produces the famous linen « canvas of the Vosges ». The notoriety of this linen canvas benefits very positively on all Vosges textile companies and serves their interest, until today where many of them are still active.
These companies have reinvented themselves over the years while retaining their know-how and expertise in textiles inherited from centuries of exploitation. Today, they offer a wide range of very diverse household linen products : bed linen and linen in cotton percale and flax of course, high quality bath towels, and always table linen, tablecloths and napkins but also curtains, cushions, duvets and pillows. Some of them have their own network of stores in France and can even sell their products abroad through their online store on their websites specializing in the sale of household linen. They thus perpetuate the tradition of Vosges textiles and contribute to maintaining the good reputation of the linen of the Vosges whose customers recognize its quality and longevity. Indeed, at the time of globalization, many industrialists do not hesitate to voluntarily lower the quality of their product to offer more competitive prices, while the linen of the Vosges maintains high production standards that guarantee a linen of incomparable quality that lasts over the years. And for good reason, if the modes of production of the linen of the Vosges evolved they kept the same requirements as for the choice of the materials at once soft and resistant, the assembly and the confection with elegant and solid seams. Long live the textile of the Vosges !
To help you choose your linens we have written several articles that may interest you :