Air conditioned clothing

August 4, 2011 2:01:39 PM PDT
There is no shortage of fans at Hiroshi Ichigaya's office. There are two built into his pocket and a pair at every employee's side.

Chances are you'll always feel a breeze wherever you go.

Ichigaya has turned a summer staple into a big business by creating a line of clothing with built-in electric fans. He says that the clothes are just like fanning yourself when it's hot, but are more efficient. Ichigaya calls them the "Kuchofuku", which is Japanese for "air conditioned clothes".

The constant breeze inside the clothes helps to lower the body temperature, and to create a personal, portable cooling system.

"People ask why I wear a jacket when it's hot, he says. I tell them, because it's cooler than being naked," said Ichigaya.

Akiko Tanaka's office clocks in at a sweltering 88 degrees. She has no air conditioning, but still does not sweat.

"I wear this at home while I do chores; the temperature stays the same wherever I go," Tanaka says.

However, the brand isn't limited to jackets. There is also a standard white shirt with two fans, a hooded jacket, a cooling cushion, an air-conditioned mattress as well as the two-piece, 4-fanned anti-bee sting suit.

Needless to say, it's tough to make any of these items look fashionable. Yet, these fashion faux paus' are becoming the "must have" of the summer, thanks to a power shortage triggered by Japan's triple disasters. Sales have soared as Japanese dial down the air conditioner to slash power usage by 15%.

Even the Prime Minister's office is calling and asking for half a million jackets, although Ichigaya declined, because he was out of stock.

Nearly 1000 companies, including Toyota use Kuchofuku now - and word of Ichigaya's inventions are quickly spreading abroad. He's talking to companies from India, China, and the United States about taking his clothing line global.