This Pollution-Detecting Shirt Is A Breath Of Fresh Air

Jul 28, 2016 at 12:56 PM ET

We’ve had shirts that change color in sunlight, we’ve had shirts that change color as the temperature changes and now, assumedly by popular acclaim, we have a shirt that changes color when the air that surrounds it is polluted. That’s right, you can now be an environmental beacon, standing there in your shirt that signals “I am standing in polluted airspace right now, everybody. The air in my immediate vicinity is polluted.”

Aerochromics is a clothing line that produces a shirt with fabric containing two particulate pollution sensors that change the shirt’s color from black to white. The shirts are aimed at an urban market, they say, where air pollution is often most prevalent, but also where having weirdly high levels of disposable income is most prevalent.

The shirt, and another similar shirt that detects carbon monoxide, cost $500. I’m not sure what kind of market research suggests people want to pay $500 for a shirt that says “The air around me is dirty,” or if that kind of market research even exists. I’m willing to bet it doesn’t. Here’s a non-sequitur link to some carbon monoxide detectors that cost in the region of $20. Regardless of all that, Aerochromics, a brand name you’ve now heard twice in the space of 100 words, decided to make these expensive one-trick-ponies.

The company also sells three separate non-reactive shirts, which apparently also detect the same gasses but don’t change color, which seems odd. A carbon monoxide detector that detected lethal doses of carbon monoxide but had no alert mechanism would just be reckless—a lawsuit waiting to happen.  Why would you make an item of any sort with the capacity to detect something but not share that knowledge in any way? Fashion, that’s why. Aerochromics (third mention) charges $650 for a shirt that changes color when you’re surrounded by radioactivity.