Pauline Van Dongen Designs Solar-powered Windbreaker For Nature Reserve Guides


Dutch fashion designer Pauline van Dongen has created more clothing with integrated solar panels, designing a windbreaker that can charge wearers’ phones and GPS devices (+ slideshow).
The water-resistant jacket is made from recycled denim yarn provided by Blue LOOP Originals and has a hood that can be concealed within a zipped collar.

Three flexible solar panels are incorporated into the front of the jacket, so guides can still wear backpacks, and an internal power bank can store enough energy to charge a phone within two hours. An inductive charging system allows wearers to charge devices, where possible, wirelessly.
The garment has been created for tour guides – known as Wad Walkers – working on the Wadden Sea Islands nature reserve in the Netherlands, who often spend up to ten hours hiking outdoors and off the grid. At low tide, the Wadden Sea recedes to reveal vast areas of mudflats, which the guides help hikers explore.
Van Dongen developed the windbreaker in collaboration with the guides, incorporating their feedback into the design process.

“We kept in mind that Wad Walkers need to face different weather conditions, which often include windy and rainy days because of the wide open space and closeness of the sea. Of course, the solar panels perform at their best during bright sunny days, so the Solar Windbreaker was from the beginning meant to be versatile and therefore worn throughout different seasons,”explained van Dongen.

The garment is part of an ongoing collaboration with the Waddenvereniging – the Dutch Wadden Sea Society – which is responsible for protecting the coastal area. The Dutch designer previously created a parka-style coat for the nature reserve workers, which similarly had detachable solar panels in the pockets that could be used to charge devices.
“What I like to do is look for the right kind of balance when technology can be perceived as something quite natural,” added van Dongen.
“We enjoy playing with the textiles and the kind of look that integrates well with the natural environment while finding harmony between the more technological look and features of the cells.”
The Arnhem-based designer started exploring the possibilities of incorporating solar panels into clothes in 2013, with a fashion collection that used panels concealed under flaps to turn the wearer into a walking phone charger.

Google has also experimented with incorporating extra elements into garments, by weaving conductive threads into textiles.
Photography is by Roos van de Kieft.

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