The US is melting. This month, soaring temperatures have tied or broken more than 800 records across the country --- and we're only halfway through July. Perhaps our sweaty, suit-loving co-workers should take a cue from the Japanese. Super Cool Biz is a government-sponsored fashion campaign to lighten up office wear as the country battles high temperatures and low energy resources in the wake of its ongoing nuclear crisis.
"We're limiting air conditioners to 82 degrees to save energy," says Masahiro Sato, the Environment Ministry bureaucrat behind this partnership with the fashion industry. "We have to loosen up clothing guidelines so people can be more comfy. As a target, we're looking at saving 10 percent of office electricity expenditure."
The campaign challenges the conservative aesthetic of the Tokyo salaryman, encouraging him leave the suit at home and instead opt for a light polo, a Hawaiian shirt, even sandals. On June 1, Super Cool Biz kicked off the season with a fashion show. The scene on the catwalk evoked a Japanese workplace in which businessmen sport skintight pedal pushers and carry hand fans.
Reuters covered the event:
Notably, the hippest looks were for working men while the women were mostly relegated to traditional Japanese yukata.
The Cool Biz clothing campaign was initially launched in 2005 as part of an effort to fight global warming, but it was slow to catch on. This year however, as Japan struggles to rebuild its energy resources, Cool Biz has really become everyone's business.
More about Japan: In 2009, Studio 360 did a special episode from Japan --- listen to Kurt's interviews with leading artists, architects, and designers there.