Late last month, Pvilion CEO Colin Touhey visited LIM College to speak about his company, its impact on the sustainability market, and its connection to the fashion industry.
Pvilion is an innovative technology design firm. The company’s website states that it "designs and manufactures flexible PV solar structures and products [from] solar powered charging stations to solar powered curtains, building facades and clothing.” Pvilion prides itself on its vertical integration, which gives it a competitive advantage against its usually foreign competitors.
Attempting to integrate solar panels into apparel is not a new concept in the fashion industry. Pvilion is no amateur in this regard, however.
“Our most recent commercial product was working with Tommy Hilfiger. We are not fashion designers, but we are in the room early," Touhey says. As soon as you put technology and wiring into a product [many questions arise]. Say you need a certain number of solar cells to charge a device; well, how many do you need? These are the types of things we figure out with them early on, and then we can move into production.”
Images courtesy of Pvilion
With Tommy Hilfiger, Pvilion created collections of outwear and tote bags that have the capability to charge smartphones. The charge the user’s phone receives depends on the strength of the sunrays received by the solar panels at that given time. If the user walks inside or into the shade, the charge will continue based on how much power the jacket’s battery has retained. In addition, most of the garments are completely washable. Plus, the technologies Pvilion provides are relatively safe for disposal; Touhey explained that the glues and laminates used to combine the garment and the hardware are the most unsustainable part of these garments. Because the company has the ability to change its specific products to fit the customer’s needs and the knowledge to help the customer integrate the product correctly, Pvilion is a major source for solar integration.
Touhey says “it’s important to see how we can apply these products in different ways,” because solar technology will obviously not save the planet solely through garment integration. Previously, the company has worked with organizations like NASA and the US Army, reducing both energy and oil consumption for the organizations. A bulk of the company’s activities relate to supplying solar energy to less prosperous areas of the world. The company has also been integrating its products into home furnishings in a more discreet and stylish manner, such as curtains that serve the same purpose as solar panels on a roof.
Images courtesy of Pvilion
As for Pvilion’s future in the fashion industry, Touhey expressed, “We are really interested in the outdoor market. High fashion is exciting, but the demand isn’t there. So we are looking at North Face and Colombia. They are using the best materials for their outerwear.”
Solar energy has a future in the fashion industry, but more innovation and redesign is needed. Designers today need to think of more useful ways to use solar energy if that market is going to expand. And when that time comes, Pvilion will be there to provide and assist in that development.
If you are interested in contacting Colin Touhey, visit http://www.pvilion.com/contact/