Air-conditioned clothing is big in Japan

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

It may not look all that cool, but desperate times call for desperate measures - even if it does mean wearing air-conditioned clothing.

The seemingly futuristic trend actually stems from a desire to stay cool in Japan's sweltering summer heat.

Of course, most people these days would just flip on the air conditioner, but power outages have become commonplace in certain areas of Japan after the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear disaster.

It works like this: the Kuchofuku AC-enabled clothing comes with a pair of battery-operated fans built into the sides of the jacket, designed to pull air in from the outside and fill the jacket up with cool air. Kind of like wearing a loose kilt on a breezy day.

"People ask me, why would I want to wear a jacket when it's so hot," said Hiroshi Ichigaya, a former Sony engineer turned designer and inventor of Kuchofuku clothing technology. "I tell them, because it's cooler than being naked."

Sign me up.

Since AC has become so scarce, Ichigaya says sales for his super "cool" clothes have increased tenfold. He adds that the goal is not to lower the air's temperature but rather keep the wearer comfortable by helping to evaporate sweat and keep the air flowing. He says the invention eliminates the need for energy-consuming air conditioners all together. 

An office staple in Kuchofuku HQ outside of Tokyo, workers sit in the stifling 88 degree office cool as a cucumber in their Stay-Puft Marshmellow-esque jackets cooling them down.

Kuchofuku launched in 2004 after a trip to Southeast Asia where Ichigaya felt inspired to explore alternate sources of energy.

(Via ABC News