Looptworks: Process of upcycling turns ‘waste’ jerseys into coveted merchandise

Former Adidas Head- Scott Hamlin has taken an innovative approach into recycling and producing sustainable products.

For his extraordinary take on upcycling, Hamlin buys unwanted jerseys from professional sports team and transforms them into merchandise ready for purchase. The process of turning a jersey into another product typically takes 2-3 weeks.

While speaking about his ingenious idea, Hamlin looked back on his experience with Adidas America in 1993. Being one among the 20 employees in North America, Hamlin discovered 15% to 30% of fabric was wasted from the manufacturing process. The excess either went to the incinerator, to landfills or to other third world countries.

Thus began the inception of his Portland, Oregon based Looptworks in 2009, which works on the mission to “close the loop” through the process of ‘upcycling’ by making good use of excess textiles and transforming them into merchandise such as accessories, clothing and bags.

Among the clients of Looptwork’s are Fortune 500 companies reportedly representing every industry, including National Basketball Association in 2016, this includes Nike, Adidas and Patagonia, and other major airline companies.

Looptworks was also approached by Portland Trailblazers with waste jerseys. About 250 jerseys were used to make sling bags, scarfs, dopp kits. The finished products were then sold to Trailblazers, who further sold them at their team store and online.

“When fans realized they were made from jerseys and are one of a kind, they sold out of all their units overnight,” Hamlin commented on the company’s success.

Since NBA jerseys are not allowed to be sold after players retire or are traded. This therefore creates several excess items. The NBA has brought Looptworks one of its biggest orders. “The NBA said, we love what you’re doing with Portland and we’re switching apparel sponsors from Adidas to Nike,” said Hamlin. “That meant thousands of jerseys that aren’t sellable.”

In another venture, Looptworks made purses, and luggage bags from used leather seat covers of Southwest Airlines after they refurbished their interiors. “We have 43 acres worth of leather that we don’t want to put in the landfill but we don’t know what to do with it.”

Looptworks has experienced 200% sales growth over the past two years as several companies are urging to become landfill free. It also has a B-Corp certification to meet certain standards of environmental performance.