A pollution-scrubbing “Field of Jeans” may sound more outlandish than a bunch of dead baseball players playing catch in a cornfield, but Helen Storey will not be swayed. After all, the designer and London College of Fashion professor, along with the University of Sheffield’s Tony Ryan and the University of Ulster’s Patricia Belford, is the brain behind “Herself,” the world’s first air-purifying dress. In other words, when Storey et. al. laid out their “art intervention” at Newcastle University in March, they were assured of one thing: If they built it, people would come.
Part of “Catalytic Clothing,” an ongoing project that explores the possibility of crowdsourced environmental remediation, Field of Jeans comprises what Storey believes is the first-ever air-purifying denim. A photocatalyst on the surface of the fabric breaks down airborne pollutants when it’s exposed to light, resolving them into harmless chemicals that slough off in the wash.
A photocatalyst on the surface of the fabric breaks down airborne pollutants when exposed to light.
With cases of asthma, especially in children, on the ascent—the U.S. spends nearly $18 billion a year treating the disease, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America—Storey wants to enlist our clothing in the fight against industrial and vehicle pollution.
“Behind almost all human advancement lies a science,” Storey says. “Catalytic Clothing is for me therefore, a collaborative and public experiment between fashion and science, in this case, a beautifully radical new concept which endeavors to purify the air that we breath through the surface of our clothes.”
Here’s hoping the idea goes the distance—no disembodied voices, necessary.