Using Creativity to Close the Loop on Textiles and Materials

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Limited-edition products made out of salvaged materials




Creating a model to close the loop of textiles manufacturing


After seeing how wasteful the fashion industry could be, Scott Hamlin and Gary Peck – who, in combination, have decades of experience at Nike, Adidas, and Royal Robbins – made the decision that if they ever went in to business for themselves, they would never create anything new. This may seem like a strange plan, but it’s one that came to fruition in 2009, when they founded Looptworks in Portland, Oregon. They based their business plan on salvaging excess materials from textile mills and warehouses, taking the fabric, thread and buttons that were destined for a landfill and turning them into limited edition apparel and athletic gear.

This reverses the idea that the materials should be dictated by the design, instead forcing the team at Looptworks to work with whatever materials have been made available to them at the time. In many ways, this begins to address tremendous environmental impacts that have become the norm in the textile industry – along with the inherent impacts that come with transporting the finished goods from overseas, the chemical processes involved in manufacturing require significant amounts of water and energy. On top of that, the fashion industry’s demands encourage further wastefulness, with unwanted or incorrect materials disposed of, which leads to millions of tons of clothing being wasted every year. Looptworks addresses these problems by recycling unused, high-quality materials into a useful product, not only eliminating it from the waste stream, but widening the company’s profit margins by manufacturing products out of less expensive material. 


Drew Nitschke is a first-year graduate student at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, working towards degree in Environmental Economics and Policy. He is especially interested in sustainability and how it relates to business of all sizes. He graduated from UCLA in June 2012 after...
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