What is Loopwheel clothing?

Posted by Aaron Rosen on

Loopwheel fabric, as utilized by Merz b. Schwanen, Iron Heart, UES, Flat Head, and Warehouse & Co, is the epitome of textile craftsmanship and heritage. Employing traditional loopwheel knitting machines, this fabric is produced in a slow and deliberate process that results in garments of unparalleled quality. While there are a lot of factors that set this fabric apart, one of the main aspects is its seamless construction, meticulously crafted by circular knitting machines. These machines produce a continuous tube of fabric, eliminating the need for side seams and giving rise to a garment that feels as soft as it looks.

Merz b. Schwanen

Traditional knitting machines are oriented horizontally and knit under varying degrees of tension. The circular knitting process of loopwheel fabric is vertical, with the only tension being gravity. The result is a luxurious texture with a natural stretch, adapting to the wearer's movements for a comfortable fit. The absence of side seams not only enhances comfort but also adds to the fabric's durability by minimizing stress points.

The deliberate pace of production ensures that each garment is a testament to craftsmanship and attention to detail. For those who appreciate the artistry behind their clothing, loopwheel fabric from Merz b. Schwanen, Iron Heart, UES, Flat Head, and Warehouse & Co, represent a timeless investment in both style and substance.

What are the benefits of Loopwheel?

Whether fashioned into sweatshirts, T-shirts, or hoodies, loopwheel garments offer remarkable softness and comfort. Their fabric's innate ability to breathe and regulate temperature renders it suitable for diverse climates and activities. You’ll find yourself wearing a “simple” tee in a variety of different outfits, like underneath a flannel or on its own. The absence of side seams not only enhances the overall comfort but also diminishes vulnerable areas prone to wear and tear.

Merz b Schwanen Tees in White, Green, Navy, Black

Why are loopwheel garments more expensive?

Admittedly, the price point of loopwheel garments tends to be higher, primarily attributed to the labor-intensive nature of their manufacturing process and the utilization of premium-grade materials. As a prime example, Merz b. Schwanen uses 100% organic cotton in all their loopwheeled knits.

The process of knitting loopwheel fabric was developed in Italy in 1926 and takes one hour to produce one meter of fabric. There are very few functioning loopwheel machines in use today and a single machine can only produce one size at a time. The elevated cost is a testament to the exceptional craftsmanship embedded in these garments. We feel their longevity, resistance to deformation, and comfort justify the investment, appealing to those seeking durable, enduring, and versatile apparel that maintains its quality and aesthetic for years.

What are the best brands?

Jeremy Allen White in The Bear wearing a Merz b. Schwanen 215 2-Thread Organic Cotton Crew Neck Tee
Photo: Matt Dinerstein/FX

Merz b. Schwanen, the popular German textile manufacturer, produces their fabric on restored traditional loopwheel machines. Unique to Merz is that they are the only producer of loopwheeled fabrics outside of Germany, and are actual makers of their garments (not outsourced to a separate loopwheel factory). They’re known for a wide variety of fits and styles and have gained popularity through the years, culminating in FX’s hit series The Bear. Jeremy Allen White sports the iconic 215 2-Thread Organic Cotton Crew Neck Tee.

From Japan, we carry Warehouse & Co, UES, Flat Head, and Iron Heart, which use loopwheel fabric produced in Wakayama Japan. There are currently around 400 loopwheel machines in Wakayama, of which only around 200 are still operational and have been around for over 80 years. Most of the fabric sewn in these factories are using American-grown cotton.

Loopwheel garments encapsulate a harmonious blend of traditional craftsmanship, exceptional quality, and timeless style. While loopwheel garments do command a higher price, we love them for their ability to endure and evolve alongside the wearer, making them a compelling choice for those seeking not just clothing, but an investment in enduring and well-crafted attire.