What Is Ramie? Everything You Need To Know About This Material
Massimo Dutti
What is ramie?

What Is Ramie? Everything You Need To Know About The Linen-Like Material

The alternative to linen is both natural and sustainable. So why haven’t you heard of it before?

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We’re all aware that ditching synthetic fabrics is better for the planet. (Read our guide to the most sustainable activewear brands here.) While browsing in store or scrolling online you might have noticed a new name amongst the word salad that is fashion marketing: ramie. No, it’s not the name of the latest ‘It’ bag, or the title of a new genderless fragrance. Rather, ramie is an alternative to linen that’s garnering popularity thanks to the fact that it’s both natural and sustainable. Indeed, given summer’s preoccupation with linen separates, we’ve spotted it recently being used by brands such as H&M, Arket and Massimo Dutti as well as, at the higher end of the scale, labels such as Zimmermann and Isabel Marant.

What is ramie fabric? 

Made from a plant in the nettle family (ramie is also known as nettle cloth or grass linen), ramie is a natural fibre that’s similar in appearance to linen. In fact, much like linen, it’s ultra durable, comfortable and, thanks to its natural origins, is perfect for sensitive skin as it’s hypoallergenic. It’s also anti-bacterial, machine washable and biodegradable (if it hasn’t been chemically altered). Ramie is deemed a sustainable fabric because it does not require any chemicals to grow. 

Is ramie better than linen?

Through both its appearance and the way it’s marketed by retailers and high-end designers, ramie mirrors linen. However, there are some differences that are worth noting. Ramie is heavier than linen. (For context, also, ramie is roughly seven times heavier than cotton.) The heavier weight of the garment means it’s not as cooling as linen, something to factor in if you’re buying a ramie button-down shirt or maxi skirt for your holidays. Ramie tends to be slightly rougher in feel than linen and is prone to slightly shrinkage (as is linen). However, much like linen, anything made from the fabric tends to soften slightly upon washing. A real boon, as it means your clothes only get nicer over time. (The joys of natural fibres!) Lastly, on appearance, they are very similar, but ramie tends to bear a slight sheen. 

Shop the best ramie pieces for summer:

White broderie-detail shirt, M&S Collection, €60, at Marks & Spencer. 

Burgundy voluminous dress with thin straps, €169, at Massimo Dutti.

Yellow sheer ramie shirt, €79; www.arket.com.

Black Erika embroidered mididress, Isabel Marant, €890; www.net-a-porter.com.

White balloon-sleeved blouse, €49.99, at H&M.


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