Loopwheeler is a company in Japan built entirely around a vintage fabric machine called a loopwheel. The loopwheel produces only enough fabric each day for 12 sweatshirts, which goes a long way to explaining the cost (the sweatshirt I'm wearing set me back around $140 CAD). But if you have a deep love for grey sweatshirts, Loopwheeler is basically the Holy Grail.
A machine weaves 24 loops a minute, which is slow enough that you can track the movement with your eyes. Experienced craftsmen have to attend the machine constantly. Slowly and gently, without putting excessive tension on threads by only leveraging gravity, the machine knits the fabric to enhance the natural texture of the thread. It feels as if air was knitted into the material. Whenever possible we use a flat seam sewing machine that was used heavily back in the 1950s. Machines today require around 10mm allowance, but this machine requires only a couple of millimeters. A small allowance reduces overlays of materials and bulk creating a more comfortable finished product. In addition the flat seam machines use six threads at a time; more threads in the seam increase strength and durability to the product. It’s slow, takes more attention, but the natural skill of the engineers truly affects the quality. I believe it is made with mysterious skill unique to Japan, which no one can duplicate.
Founder Satoshi Suzuki, interviewed by Sneaker Freaker.