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Can designers make solar sexy? This Tommy Hilfiger jacket has us leaning toward ‘no’

Designer clothing brand Tommy Hilfiger has heard about this wearable tech craze, and thought it best get in on the act. The result is the limited edition Solar Powered Jacket, made with the help of solar energy experts Pvilion, which could be yours for a mere $600. If you despair over the tech industry’s inability to produce consistently attractive wearable gadgets, and expected the fashion industry to change all that, the design of Hilfiger’s jackets may come as a disappointment.

We’ll call the look “challenging,” and leave it at that. After all, there are sure to be some cash-laden fashionistas out there who can pull them off. The aspect which makes the Solar Panel Jacket stand out is, unsurprisingly, the solar panel array on the back. On the men’s version, a single line of flexible, water-proof panels stretch across the shoulders, while ladies get a double stacked version over their backs. Both setups can be quickly removed to make the coats a little less geeky.

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When they’re in place and you’re out in the sunshine (although if it’s too hot, a jacket will be the last thing you’ll want to wear), the panels send energy to a battery pack stored in the front pocket. It has two USB ports, meaning the Hilfiger jacket can charge two gadgets at once. Apparently, once the built-in battery is full, it has enough juice to charge a 3000mAh battery twice. What isn’t clear is how long it takes for the sun to charge the battery pack, but we have the feeling it’ll be quite a time. Luckily, the pack can be removed and charged at home, then kept topped up by the sun.

Hilfiger and Pvilion have only made a few Solar Panel Jackets for this year’s holiday season, and despite only going on sale at the beginning of November, it looks like they’ve already sold out. Whether the experimental, tentative move into wearable tech inspires Hilfiger to come up with more mainstream and affordable items, remains to be seen.