by Rebecca Sun
The US Food and Drug Administration recently announced that new standards for sunscreen claims will go into effect in 2012. Around the same time, the media ran articles saying that while tanning causes skin cancer, sunscreens also contain carcinogens. Good grief. What’s a person to do?
Just as some tools are extensions of our hands, the same can be said for apparel: It can be a better version of skin. Textile Intelligence, a UK market research firm, says that sun-protective clothing is breaking out of the niche category and mainstreaming (LATimes.com, 6 June 2011). With nuclear power plants failing and electricity rationed in Japan, there’s not much AC for the sweltering summer. So the Japanese are reaching for special clothing that wicks moisture, dries quickly and shields the heat. Within the last decade, as computers and cellphones became modern necessities, some pregnant Chinese women started wearing lead-blocking clothes. Its neighbor’s nuclear disaster has only heightened health fears, and some coastal residents have rushed out to buy radiation-proof apparel. In countries with lots of street crime, like Colombia and Mexico, bullet-proof clothing that looks like normal gear is fashionable … and sensible.
Busy Control FreakSM consumers are all about smart clothing. No-iron cotton shirts? Great, as long as there’s no formaldehyde in there. Bacteria-busting exercise clothes? As long as they’re not too expensive. Swimsuits that help the wearer break world records? Doubtful. Clothes that do realistic double or triple duty? That people buy.