Solar Powered Fashion Meets High Design

We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Sandra Garratt, the design director of Los Angeles-based clothing company Silvr Lining, which combines sustainable and natural materials with renewable energy technology to create a new breed of modern clothing. Silvr Lining’s three collections feature modern, tech-based approaches to fashion while retaining the traditional ideas of form and function, and pay particular attention to the ethics and ecological consciousness of the materials used. The most obviously eco-conscious is her GO Collection, which integrates solar panels into actual clothing.

Garratt returned to California from New York with the desire to create a new kind of clothing company, one that not only reflected the people and culture of southern California, but one that combined high-performance materials with all-natural, organic, and animal-friendly ones. Garratt describes this choice as being a product of society’s becoming increasingly dependent on technology, while becoming ever more aware of the need to tread lightly and live sustainably. To that end, she created Silvr Lining.

The company was said to be created during the worst of California’s 2008 recession, and during a time where energy shortages were becoming a real concern. While others might have shied away from starting a business during such a time, Garratt saw her products and philosophy as a “silver lining,” a glimmer of hope for a brighter future.

Image via Silvr Lining

In California, Garratt teamed up with Douglas Holmes, an electrical engineer looking for an opportunity to stretch his creative muscles. Together, they ended up creating Silvr Lining’s GO Collection, a line of urban sportswear that integrates solar panels that allow wearers to charge mobile devices while out and about. The sun is a huge part of life in southern California, Garratt says, and so integrating into fashion as well as technology seemed like the next logical step.

The GO Collection features a vest, two jackets, and a pair of cargo pants equipped with polymer solar panels. The panels have an attached power pack that can be hooked up to mobile devices to provide a charge. They simply slip into the garments’ pockets, are protected from the elements by a clear patch, and can be removed easily to allow for washing (unlike a certain solar bikini). The panels themselves can be wiped with a cloth for cleaning. Garratt decided on Ultrasuede for the clothing itself, which is made from recycled polyesters and is completely animal friendly.

For her other collections, Garratt prefers natural fibers, but the reclaimed nature of this fabric speaks to her philosophies of sustainability, as she is constantly considering the father-reaching implications of the materials she uses. Even the panels were an experiment in material reduction, as they were designed to be as minimal as possible.

Image via Silvr Lining

The jackets, vest and pants are unisex, cut loose and casual, but have drawstrings and belts to create, if desired, a more shapely silhouette. “Most of our customers are women,” Garratt explains, “and women are more likely to wear men’s clothing than men are to wear women’s.

It’s kind of a weird stigma,” she adds with a laugh, “but there it is.” The collection comes in a variety of colors, ranging from bright, vibrant shades of orange and magenta to delicate greens, blues and earth tones. Noting that “they’re the colors of southern California,” some of the fabrics also sport a minimalist check pattern, which Garratt explains was taken directly from the pattern made by the circuitry of the panels.

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.