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Solar clothing: from the beach to the runway

Got to have your gadgets with you when you hit the beach? Need your tunes with you while you sunbathe, or don’t want to miss calls? Fear not: designer Andrew Schneider’s solar bikini (which first received attention in the concept stage) has hit the market (only for custom orders, though). Yes, you can swim in it (though you need to dry off before connecting any gadgets), and yes, there’s a version for guys on the way (that includes a solar-powered beer-cooling coozy).

But Schneider’s not the only designer out there that sees clothing as space for energy collection. Silvr Lining, for instance, came out with a full line with embedded solar panels last Winter (and, yeah, most of it looks like it comes straight out of some early ’80s New Wave video). Zegna’s Ecotech Jacket features not only a removable solar panel, but also a shell made almost entirely from recycled plastic. Project Runway winner Seth Aaron Henderson got into the game last Fall at Portland Fashion Week with what he thinks is the first “high-fashion runway collection based on solar.”  And, of course, there are just some really dorky examples of solar fashion… see the video above for one example of decidedly ugly solar clothing.

It’s still a niche, and an expensive one at that, but fashion designers seem inspired by the notion that small-scale energy production can fit into the world of the style. Know of other examples of solar-powered clothing? Share them with us…

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