Old Airline Seats Become Trendy New Bags

A collaboration between Southwest Airlines and Portland's Looptworks turns yesterday's plane seats into tomorrow's carry-ons.

By Mary Stutzman January 12, 2015

Image: Looptworks

Portland design company Looptwork’s new Luv Seat Line brings new meaning to the phrase “fashion on the fly.” Repurposed from old airline seats, not only do the blue and brown leather bags look good, the process used to make them is good for the environment.

Last year, Southwest Airlines replaced 80,000 airplane seats to lighten their load and save gas. When they approached Looptworks with the leftovers—almost 40 acres of leather—the company used design to turn old seats into something useful.

“Our designers took the original intent and form of the seats for inspiration and tried to figure out which kind of process was least wasteful. We didn’t want to undo what had already been done,” says Looptworks co-founder Scott Hamlin.

So the design team squeezed three different designs out of each seat including a backpack, duffel bag, and cute convertible tote.

According to Hamlin, each Luv Seat bag conserves 4,000 gallons of water as opposed to using virgin leather and cuts carbon emissions by 72 percent. There’s also a social impact. The Luv Seat Project partnered with two Oregon nonprofits that employ adults with disabilities, providing jobs to deconstruct the seats and clean and rehabilitate the leather.

Founded in 2009 with the motto “Use only what exists,” Looptworks turns fashion industry waste into items people want while conserving water and emissions. Products that range from clothing to laptop covers “upcycle” to produce new items of higher value and environmental quality.

“A lot of people are huge fans of Southwest airlines, so there’s a nostalgia piece there that some people like," says Hamlin.  “And honestly, they look really cool. The bags have a vintage vibe, which is really in right now.”

Hamlin says Luv Seat bags are shipping out as fast as Looptworks can make them and the company is looking into additional retail options for the new line.

For more information and ordering, visit

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