The concept of upcycling has become a movement thanks to innovative and sustainable companies that divert our wasteful habits and produce other goods in order to recreate the cycle in nature: nothing goes to waste. An example of one of these companies in the clothing industry is Looptworks. The company only uses excess materials that would have otherwise been incinerated or ended up in landfills to create high-quality bags, accessories and apparel.
Co-founder Scott Hamlin noticed the issue of clothing material waste in the manufacturing process during the time he worked for a large outdoor apparel company.
“Thirty percent of our materials never actually got used in manufacturing,” Hamlin said of his prior work experience with an outdoor gear company. “To me, that was a huge issue that nobody was talking about. It was dealt with as ‘business as usual.’”
So Hamlin decided to fix the problem and Looptworks was ‘sewn’ together.
The Looptworks team works directly with companies to assist them in reducing their waste — whether it’s a partnership with Alaska Airlines to make products from old airplane seats, or collaborating with a local leather jacket-maker in Portland that wants to find a use for excess leather.
Looptworks understands that it can’t solve this problem alone. That’s why the company believes strongly in partnerships, as its goal is not to dominate the market, or innovate in isolation, but spur larger changes that help turn the entire industry toward sustainability.
Companies like Looptworks help expand upcycling’s market not only to those who care about sustainability, but those who care, first and foremost, about quality and style. However, Looptworks is not alone in its business model – which is a good thing.
Rewilder, a company based in Los Angeles, make purses and handbags using a highly unusual collection of upcycled materials. Products are made from upcycled filter cloth, which breweries use to filter hops and barley, as well as recycled house paint and handles from recycled climbing ropes.
Patagonia, a longtime leader in sustainable fashion, is also joining in on the trend. The outdoor gear company will launch the Re///collection this fall, a new line that contains upcycled materials including wool from discarded sweaters and recycled polyester from worn-out garments.
Even though the number of companies that make their business from upcycling is only a minute portion of the market, at least there is much greater awareness around holistic, sustainable processes and approaches that continue to grow throughout consumer product industries.
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