They’ve been talking about it for years now; solar powered jackets, backpacks and even shoes that while you wear them, take energy from the sun to recharge your iPod, cellphone, or camera. What a good green idea, whose time, it seems, has come.
Last year uber-high- end, Italian men’s fashion house,Ermenegildo Zegna, introduced a sleek ski jacket with solar panels in the neck to much fanfare.
The solar panels are detachable and can be used with or without the jacket. Four or five hours of sunlight will recharge just about any portable device. Neat eh? Even with a world wide recession going on, the $750 price tag doesn’t seem to be putting anybody off. Buyers around the world placed orders– and of course for the super rich, it is always made-to-measure time anyway.
The jacket is admittedly a guy thing. For women there is, would you believe
it, a solar powered bikini. It was developed way back in 2006, and since I haven’t seen it taking the beaches by storm since then, I can only imagine that most women don’t consider it to be a fashion must have.
Probably not too comfy and perhaps not too good for swimming– but a fashion eye catcher just the same. The photovoltaic laced bikini that puts out 5volts by USB. Just enough to charge an iPod. The proto-type got a lot of press, but I don’t think you can buy one anywhere these days. Perhaps solar panels are just a bit too bulky and fragile for use in apparel.
Nevertheless, these items show that green designers and manufacturers have their thinking caps on and know a market when they see one. The recent introduction of printed plastic solar cells shows more promise in this area. In fact, the future of solar powered clothing looks very bright indeed.
A Bright Solar Future
Companies are experimenting right now with rolls of plastic embedded with solar cells. Massachusetts-based, Konarka Technologies is hard at work perfecting the technology needed to embed small solar plastic cells in hundreds of products. Kanarka’s Power Plastic is already being sold to companies making gadgets to recharge small electronics using solar power. Solar fibers and fabrics are just a few more miles down the technological highway.
In a year or two you won’t have to be a gazillionaire to afford a solar powered jacket and who knows, solar powered bikinis using water-proof solar fibers just may be all the rage.