Saturday, August 16, 2008

Loopwheeler, or my newest fashion fetish

I like to think that I'm a pretty fashionable guy. I appreciate stuff that fits well, and have spent some hard earned cash on things that might not make sense to a lot of people. My latest obsession is with a japanese brand called Loopwheeler.

There are several things that make Loopwheeler so appealing to me.


In the end, most clothing brands sell just that--their brands. They sell their cuts, their logos, or their looks and designs. Loopwheeler has its own unique story. A brand that works exclusively in cotton, their namesake is a rustic piece of technology called a loopwheel.

According to their blog, these loopwheels were the machine of choice for knitting fabric in the 40's and 50's. The results of which are known for exceptional softness and durability, stemming from a slow process that involves putting less tension on the material. The downside of course, is that it is only capable of making 22-23 meters of fabric a day. That equates to 8-9 sweatshirts.

Due to this gross inefficiency, few places in the world still use loopwheels, and of course, Loopwheeler is one of those few.

Loopwheeler is one of those rare cases where their selling point is essentially their quality. Their clothing ends up being extremely soft through years of washes. Sweatshirts that can basically be worn for the rest of your life while only getting more wearable over time.

They use a 4-needle sewing machine to make their clothing (as opposed to 2- or 3-needle machines that are the norm), which essentially means that it does not need a sewing margin. Sewing margins would require extra layers of fabric, which is what you will notice for any sweaters you have lying around. The perks of the 4-needle machine is that makes the seams noticeably softer without sacrificing durability.

While Loopwheeler is distributed in a handful of places outside their main stores in Japan, supplies are extremely limited, and "handful" is few and far between indeed. Selfridges in England, the famous Colette in France, and the two Loopwheeler locations in Japan are the only spots to pick up their product. When they're in stock.

This has changed a bit recently, as Nike has released their high-end Sportswear line. They have collaborated with Loopwheeler for tees and sweats for the first time on American soil. However, Nike Sportswear is for the moment limited to only New York and Los Angeles. And even then? The prices are prohibitive, with sweaters at $200-$240, and shirts in the $50 range.

Pictures and info shamelessly stolen from Loopwheeler's website and blog :)

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