Have you ever longed for a pricey designer jacket that would not only give you that “catwalk-ready” look, but also charge up all your gadgets using built-in solar panels? Me neither, but it’s here anyway, and don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.

High-end Italian designer Ermenegildo Zegna has introduced the Solar JKT from Zegna Sport, apparently the first “premium segment outerwear garment” with built in solar panels to charge up your phone, iPod, or other pocket electronics. The jacket was unveiled at the Pitti Uomo (Pitiful Man) fashion show in Italy last month.

The solar modules are mounted on the collar and the electricity generated can either be stored in an attached buffer battery or can go direct to device (had the jacket been designed based on style from the 80s era of huge shoulder pads and high collars, they could have included enough modules to power your entire home).

The solar piece of the garment was developed by German company Interactive Wear AG in partnership with technology firm SOLARC.

Solar panel equipped clothing isn’t exactly new—the Solar SCOTTEVEST System  (why is everything a system?) has been available for a couple of years now. It features removable panels and a charging mechanism similar in function to the Solar JKT (although the SCOTTEVEST it isn’t yet compatible with an iPod).

The big difference is that the Solar JKT is the first such garment offered by a big name designer, which broadens the potential market from outdoorsy geeks to the fashionista crowd.

Some questions are sure to be raised by this new technology, such as “If it’s sunny enough to power my iPod, why am I wearing a jacket?” and “If there’s a thunderstorm, will I be electrocuted?”  Still, it beats charging up your phone with an old-fashioned, diesel-powered jacket.

No details on pricing have been released.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in July 2007.

Copyright Environ Press 2007