How the 'Up-Cycling' Design Company Looptworks Reinvented Portland's Most Legendary Motorcycle Jackets

The closed-loop manufacturer turns excess leather into premium luggage. Everyone wins.

By Alex Madison November 24, 2015

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Image courtesy Looptworks

“We’re really good storytellers,” says Scott Hamlin, co-founder of Looptworks, a Portland manufacturing and design company. The stories Looptworks tells are of sustainability, solution, and innovation. As Hamlin explains, “We don't have to go out and invent marketing stories and positioning stories.”

Looptworks is a closed-loop manufacturing company. That means every one of its products, from leather handbags and backpacks to phone cases and apparel, is made entirely from waste materials from either manufacturers or consumers—materials otherwise on their way to an incinerator or landfill. Thirty percent of all manufacturing materials go unused; Looptworks is trying to change this.

“We envision design differently,” says Hamlin. “We created Looptworks to attempt to change the system.”

In some cases, “envisioning design differently” means wind turbine tarps transformed into a classic side satchel or purse; 80,000 airplane seat covers becoming a line of fashionable tote bags; or excess scraps from a motorcycle jacket turned into a passport wallet. Differently can mean significantly reducing the amount of water used in manufacturing, or reducing carbon emissions up to 80 percent on certain products simply from making durable products out of other company’s excess materials.

“I look at this world and see an endless cycle of waste,” Hamlin says. “We use our skills and design and innovation to turn left-over materials into amazing products and extend the life of those materials.”

The Certified B company has partnered with other companies from all sides of the spectrum, from Microsoft to Patagonia. The latest fall collection uses leather scraps from Portland’s 70-year-old leather jacket manufacturing company Langlitz Leather to create a felt and leather line.

Hamlin’s products tell a story that goes deeper than something made from new materials. His products have “a really interesting and compelling association,” Hamlin says.

The Portland Trail Blazer flags you see this season? Made from Looptworks’ “up-cycled” materials. Lush cosmetic’s employees all over the world wear up-cycled double sided aprons designed for two uses before they hit the washing machine.

The six-year-old budding company is growing quickly and is making a name for itself, with appearances on NBC Nightly News, LA Times, and The Washington Post. What Hamlin is trying to achieve with Looptworks is a story that reaches all stages of the manufacturing industry across the globe.

“I envision this to be global brand that really has an influence and an impact on how the industry behaves and how we change the way we do things,” Says Hamlin.

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Image courtesy Looptworks.



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