Langlitz embodies a really cool history and heritage and we’ve been eyeing their excess for some time now. They’re a third generation family owned business here in Portland, as well as an icon of American craftsmanship and motorcycle heritage.
History of Langlitz
Ross Langlitz was born in 1918 and grew up in McMinnville, Oregon. His teenage years brought out a hefty dose of rebelliousness, which included a fierce love for motorcycles. When an unfortunate accident involving a drunk driver resulted in the amputation of his leg, Ross was told by his doctors that he would never ride again. His response? To ride back to the hospital months later just to stick it to them.
Not content with the leather jackets available on the market, Ross eventually got a sewing machine and “built” his own jacket with a number of modifications, including sewing the sleeves in the riding position to make it more comfortable on longer rides. “Built,” because that’s the word Ross used and the verb fits. These jackets are practically bulletproof. A new one is so stiff that it stands up by itself! It can take a few years of wearing it in before it gets comfortable.
Ross’ friends kept asking him where they could get one like the one he made for himself, and Langlitz took off from there. Today they continue to make motorcycle leathers for motorcycle riders. Most of the leathers they make are custom fit. And they have the same uncompromising attention to quality that made them so successful in the first place.
A Cult Phenomenon
Over the years, Langlitz has cultivated an aura of mystique and badassery that has attracted a large cult following. They’re the go-to choice for the Hells Angels. They have a huge fan base in Japan. They’re also sought out and worn by A-listers inside and outside Hollywood, including Jeff Goldblum, Michael J. Fox, Sylvester Stalone, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Benicio Del Toro, and Ralph Lauren. Niel Young even outfitted his entire touring band in Langlitz leathers. To the Langlitz enthusiast, any Langlitz is instantly recognizable from across the room, and wearing one guarantees instant fraternity across many cultures and subcultures.
But before Langlitz became a symbol, it was (and still is) a motorcycle leathers company. They have close to 70 years of experience hand selecting the toughest leather on the planet. Hanging out in their shop, watching the amount of effort it took to cut the leather down to size made it clear that this was tough stuff. Just listen to some of these testimonials:
- I was cut off by a distracted motorist and as a result I somersaulted over the car bounced a few times off another and then slid on the pavement. Being a firm believer in good riding gear, I managed to walk away from the collision with out as much as a scratch. The Columbia jacket took the full impact and my sliding down the pavement and it was totally in tact. The insurance adjuster was ready to payout for my safety gear and would not believe that the jacket survived the accident.
- It has protected me in every sort of weather from ice storms and snow to desert blowing sand. Twice it took the brunt of contact with the pavement and once saved me as I broke through barbed wire in Sicily.
When Langlitz cuts a hide down to size to use in its leathers, there is trim waste leftover. Langlitz has been trying to get creative with this excess instead of landfilling or incinerating it. More often than not, leather is downcycled into a few different uses, including fodder for knife salesmen to demonstrate the sharpness of their wares, and stuffing for punching bags. We're excited to find a use for this leather that is more in keeping with its inherent quality and durability.
Made to Last
When it came time to transform this excess into something useful, we were inspired by the durability of Langlitz' products. The goal of longevity came to inform every aspect of the design conversation. What color should Loopt Classics be? Black. Black never goes out of style. Function or aesthetics first? Function. If it doesn’t work perfectly, a person won’t keep using it. Clean or contemporary design? Clean. It can’t look dated in 20 years.
Langlitz' excess turned out to be the perfect material across all these categories and embodied a really cool story to boot. And, since the leather is upcycled, each one of these bags conserves between 200 and 6,260 gallons of water.
It has been a true pleasure to work with the folks at Langlitz. That began when we first agreed to the collaboration over a handshake instead of a signed contract, all the way up until we shot video and photography in their workspace while they were building custom leathers on one of their busiest days of the week. Langlitz is excited that we were able to find such a cool home for their excess leather, and we’re excited about honoring their excess material with products that continue their legacy of attention to detail and craftsmanship.