Monday, October 22, 2007


By Emi Foulk

TOKYO (Reuters) - Self-cooling clothes may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but for one Japanese company they are not only good business but a way to help the environment.

Shirts and jackets made by Kuchou-fuku -- literally "air-conditioned clothes" -- keep the wearer comfortable even in sweltering heat while using one-50th of the energy of a small air conditioner, said Hiroshi Ichigaya, the company's


"Until now, air-conditioning implied cooling the entire room. Now, we can cool just the body," Ichigaya said.

Two small fans sewn into the back of each garment and powered by a pocket-sized rechargeable battery pack circulate air across the wearer's skin, evaporating perspiration and keeping temperatures down -- a welcome respite from Japan's mid-summer humidity and record-breaking heat in recent days.

The self-cooling clothes come in 10 styles and a variety of colors, all priced at 11,000 yen ($96) and sold on the internet and at limited retailers.

The company has sold about 5,500 of the garments since they went on sale three years ago, mostly to factory workers.

But however cool the clothes, they seem unlikely to catch on any time soon. Because the fans puff out the garments with air, they give wearers a deceptively portly look.

"My daughter won't wear them because the shape is no good," Ichigaya admitted.

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