Inside the sleek, slate exterior of Pauline van Dongen’s Solar Parka, a waterproof, flexible solar panel hides—capable of charging your smartphone in just under two sun-soaked hours. This innovative outerwear was realized in collaboration with Blue LOOP Originals and the Wadden Sea Society to celebrate half-a-century of the society's efforts in the Sea’s UNESCO-World Heritage nature reserve.
“This vision is closely related to the environment of the Wadden Sea and its conditions, where off-grid renewable energy plays an important role,” van Dongen tells The Creators Project over email. “[…] With the solar parka, the Wadden Sea Society contributes to innovation in the field of renewable energy. For me as a designer it was a great opportunity to create a design for a wearer or in this case ‘user’ with an outdoor lifestyle and conscious mentality towards the environment.”
The designer also took efforts to create a product which evokes and reflects the environs of Wadden Sea itself. Unlike the uniform black of the previous items in the designer’s line of Wearable Solar clothing—a solar cell dress, coat, and shirt—the Blue LOOP's recycled denim fabric of the parka's surface is a “mélange blue/grey,” she describes, which “blends perfectly with the surroundings.”
More than anything, von Dongen adds, “it is designed to create a cool and distinct look with the intension to inspire new types of interaction between people, their clothing and their surroundings […] I already tested the Parka myself during a hiking tour on the Wad last Spring. The unisex design with its oversized shape, made me feel very comfortable, protected and well connected.”
Want to learn more about the designer? Watch our documentary on Pauline van Dongen's Solar-Powered Fashion Designs:
When asked about the state of wearable technologies such as her own, the designer added, “Over the past two years we’ve proven to make the development from one-off couture like solar garments to accessible and highly wearable designs that are not that far removed from becoming commercially available. In the near future I see the technology ready to be used in various types of garments and produced on a larger scale." Her hopes, she adds, are that "larger fashion companies and brands are going to take part in this exciting developments and want to develop products together targeted towards their specific customers, that can then be taken into production and enter the market.”
Below, find the future of renewable energy wearables in more shots of the parka in the Wadden Sea: