Windproof, waterproof, and breathable used to be the gold standard triumvirate for the toughest active outerwear. But Nieuwe Heren (“New Gents”) a design company in Holland, recently upped the ante for urban active apparel with their new Aegis, a prototype jacket built to counter the effects of growing pollution and diminishing lifespans due to airborne pollutants.
“Awhile ago I read an article about pollution in bigger cities and the effect on your body,” says company cofounder Tim Smit. “We were shocked by this and felt we had to make a statement.”
The result: The Aegis, named after the shield of Zeus, which possessed tremendous powers and had a surface of gold, scaly snakeskin. While not constructed from magic snakeskin, the Aegis appears to be equally impenetrable, with ceramic fabrics, electronic air-quality sensors, pollution filtering, and a built-in respirator.
The outer surface, created from Schoeller-Ceraspace, a scaly fabric made from ceramic particles, is more heat and abrasion resistant than leather. It’s coated with a titanium dioxide spray that makes the jacket resistant to surface grime, mold, bacteria, and viruses. The inner liner, made from Schoeller-PCM, a textile that contains millions of microcapsules filled with Phase Change Materials, is designed to adjust the temperature to fit the wearer’s own comfort zone.
The built-in electronic air sensor detects the six most common air pollutants: ammonia, alcohol, Benzene, nitrogen oxide, smoke, and carbon dioxide. When the sensor enters a polluted area, it sends a signal to the wearer indicating the severance of the pollution. The worse the air quality, the more extra-bright LEDs light up. When the wearer approaches unhealthy air, he can pop up the integrated respirator, fitted with a carbon cloth, and filter gases and vapors, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxides, carbon monoxide, low-level ozone, hydrocarbon chemicals, asbestos, pollen, road dust, and black smoke from diesel emissions.
And that’s not all. More than just a prophylactic, the jacket’s treated surface can release oxidizers into the air when UV light hits it, which will destroy any airborne pollutant touching the garment, turning wearers into walking air filters.
There’s one caveat: Nieuwe Heren is still looking for a partner that can mass-produce the jacket.