Upcycling sports shirts and aeroplane seats

Upcycling sports shirts and aeroplane seats
Upcycling sports shirts and aeroplane seats
“When I started talking about upcycling, people thought I was talking about riding bikes uphill,” laughs Scott Hamlin.

But the former Adidas boss has a simple, yet ingenious, business model – he buys unwanted tops from professional sports teams, upcycles them into merchandise and sells it back to them.

He first began the business with Portland Trail Blazers shirts, a professional basketball team in the US.

“They came to us with jerseys of four players that were traded and they wanted us to create something for one of their green games,” Mr Hamlin says.

The green games are part of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) environmental initiative called NBA Green, which creates awareness and raises funds to help protect the environment.

Image copyright Looptworks Image caption A bag made from aeroplane seat leather

But it’s not just sports tops that are getting overhauled.

When airlines update their plane interiors and refit cabins, Looptworks takes their used leather seat covers to craft them into purses, bags and luggage. One of its biggest clients is Southwest Airlines. Looptworks’ other non-sports clients include outdoor clothing firm Patagonia, Wells Fargo bank and Subway.

Mr Hamlin has plans to expand to other sports and countries, and is talking to some ”notable brands” in Europe about potential partnerships.

When asked about any future collaboration with football clubs, he says: ”Personally, Barcelona, Manchester United, Ajax, Paris St Germain, Manchester City and Real Madrid would top my list.”

The UK-based Textile Recycling Association says both the reuse and recycling of clothing are playing a bigger role in sustainability efforts.

“With the advent of fast fashion and rapidly rising consumption rates we are now potentially looking at hundreds of thousands of tonnes of used clothing being discarded annually (globally) and I think that upcycling will only be able to cope with a limited amount of this,” says spokesman Alan Wheeler.

Image copyright Upcycle That

Upcycling is also becoming popular for extending the life of furniture and household items. Canada-based Upcycle That takes items such as skateboards, tea-cups and plastic bottles and reinvents them for corporate clients and individuals.

“When people upcycle, they experience first hand what it means to take something that was previously considered waste and turn it into something functional and beautiful,” says Upcycle That co-founder, Judy Rom.

“This leads to a mindset shift around waste and gets people to think twice before throwing something away.”

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