Launched in September 2009, Looptworks is a ground-breaking business that repurposes abandoned materials into meaningful, long-lasting and limited-edition products. By re-using the world’s pre-consumer excess, the U.S.-based company aims to rid the world of waste while inspiring a generation to reduce their impact on the planet. The inaugural line includes jackets hoodies, skirts, shirts and graphic t-shirts for both men and women The Portland, Oregon-based start-up is led by apparel industry veterans with extensive experience from Nike, Adidas and Royal Robbins.
A New Way of Making Clothing
In 2006, Americans generated more than 11.8 million tons of textile waste, which represents 10 pounds for every person. Every week, one factory can dispose of about 60,000 pounds of textile waste that goes into landfills. Clothes that are discarded not only contribute solid waste in landfills, but also are part of a system that uses energy and creates carbon emissions in transit to distant lands. Cast-off clothing is replacing traditional locally made textiles, creating significant cultural and economic ramifications.
Looptworks has turned the way traditional apparel companies manufacture cool clothing inside out: Instead of designing collections more than a year in advance, Looptworks shortens the development cycle to weeks. Instead of using the world’s limited resources to manufacture brand new fabrics, Looptworks uses top-quality, excess materials and components that already exist. Instead of producing huge flash-fashion seasonal collections like traditional apparel manufacturers, Looptworks offers fresh, numbered, limited-edition eco-friendly clothing.
“We have a unique process to create unique products,” says Gary Peck, co-founder of Looptworks. “From concept to your closet, we can assure you that no new materials were used to create our clothing and that each item is as individual as the person who wears it.”
For example, to create a button-down shirt for Fall 2009 (F09) through a traditional clothing manufacturer, the process involves evaluating the market and competitors, designing silhouettes, creating fabrics, developing sample garments, reviewing styles/collection, deciding on final styles, producing these pieces, and shipping. This process usually takes at least 54 weeks at best, as well as a tremendous amount of resources. For example, at least 400 gallons of water are used to manufacture one shirt. The fabric that is not used in production is left over excess and often discarded, adding to the 60,000 pounds of pre-consumer waste produced by one vertical textile factory every week.
At Looptworks, it takes nine weeks and no new materials to create the Jalan shirt. Adds Peck, “This is not only a new way of making clothing and accessories, it is a totally new way of thinking. We hope people start to think about what they buy, where it came from, and what natural resources it required to produce it.”
With a traditional apparel manufacturer, 3600 other people might purchase the same exact product, a quantity that represents a typical factory minimum. Looptworks limits what it can produce based on the amount of materials leftover. Typically this means that there will be no more than 500 of any given style. Each one is hand-numbered making it indeed a one-of-a-kind collectible.
Even though, the production cycle is extremely fast and the materials are acquired second-hand, Looptworks builds clothing and accessories to last. Each material is tested for shrinkage and durability before being incorporated into designs. Products are double-needle stitched on all seams and triple-needle stitched on critical seams. Looptworks also adheres to a strict 1.5 AQL rating for all of its quality assurance inspections. Part of being sustainable is building products that don’t fall apart after six months of use.