A dress to save the world

The Tank can't wait to get its mitts on a dress that detects pollution

29 Jun 2012, 00:05

Back in the early 1990s, when ministers were emerging fresh faced from the first Rio Earth Summit full of promises to create a more sustainable economy, the Sceptic Tank was but a wee nipper running around the school playground.

And like most of its peers, The Tank was a huge fan of Global Hypercolor t-shirts that changed from hues of green or blue when we were cold, to pinks and yellows when the mercury soared.

Nowadays however, it's near impossible to find hypercolour on the high-street, and frankly even if we could it's not appropriate attire for a mid-career journalist working in a chic Soho bunker.

Which is why were delighted to discover yesterday that one young fashion designer might be about to bring colour-changing clothes back on to the catwalk - and this time it won't just be for fun, it'll be for the planet.

According to green fashion website Ecouterre, designer Dahea Sun has created some naturally-dyed silk dresses that change colour according to air quality.

The Central Saint Martin's textile student had developed a set of dyes using pigments  found in red cabbages, blackberries, and aubergine that responded to acidity levels in rainwater and can therefore detect acid rain.

What's more, she's created a smartphone app which records the data from the dress. Using GPS, it can then map the crowd-sourced data to show air-quality trends on a global scale.

"Fashion has a direct link to the environment," Sun said. "My garments are pH indicators, which is hypersensitive for pH, by changing its colour as soon as it is rained on."

All of which suggest Sun is quite an adept chemist, but then again she is also fashion student and as such we need to hear more about her "vision". "I wanted to embody environmental responsibility in a poetic collection that has fashionable and sophisticated details," she explained.

Regardless of its poetic resonance, the Tank wonders whether London Mayor Boris Johnson could order in a few pollution detecting suits to provide him with up-to the minute information on air quality as he cycled around the capital.

Then next time one of his opponents challenged him on his failure to tackle pollution, he could simply point to the colour of his suit with pride. Unless of course it showed high pollution levels... Now that would be embarrassing.

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