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Coat for Syrian Refugees as a Sleeping Bag and Tent

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A group of students from London’s Royal College of Art have designed a prototype coat for refugees that transforms into a tent or a sleeping bag. Made from paper-like synthetic material Tyvek, the Wearable Habitation coat is insulated with Mylar – a polyester material commonly used by marathon runners to keep warm.

coat for syrian refugees

In its jacket form, one person can wear the garment. Once night falls, it can be transformed into a sleeping bag for two or a tent that holds four. The waterproof exterior of the garment is constructed with Tyvek, a lightweight, inexpensive yet durable material made from high-density polyethylene fiber. The interior is insulated with Mylar—yes, the same shiny polyester film that refugees landing at Lesbos are wrapped in by aid workers and volunteers. As seen in the video below, switching the garment from one incarnation to another is a simple process.

Black zips allow the coat to be completely opened out and transformed into a sleeping bag. Lightweight kite-rods can then be fed through specific seams to form a tent. Visual assembly instructions will be printed onto each garment.

The coat was developed by mixed teams of students from the RCA’s interior design and textile courses, who were asked to develop wearable shelters for those displaced by conflict in their home countries.

coat for syrian refugees

The garment is designed to convert from a jacket with large storage pockets into a sleeping bag and also a tent. Lead project tutors Dr Harriet Harriss & Graeme Brooker set the design brief and have been working with project advocates – WALL Fashion London – who have mentored the students towards developing a prototype ready to go into mass production and have kindly offered to cover the cost of making the factory-ready prototype.

The project now seeks funding in order to mass produce the garment, and help refugee aid agencies transport and distribute these wearables – in the places it’s needed most. We need your help to do this – just to get us to the point where the wearable has been tested and we’ve got a large batch ready for distribution – after which point we are confident we can create a self-sufficient production system. Please help us make a difference. Our wonderful and talented students names are as follows: Gabriella Geagea Anne Sophie Geay Cassie Buckhart Eve Hoffmann Anna Duthie (textiles) Jess Wang Hailey Darling Zara Ashby Ruben Van den Bossche Giulia Silovy.

The marketing plan for the coat is expected to include an option for festival-goers of “buy-one-for-yourself, give-one-to-a-refugee”, while its armless design is intended to prevent the garment being uncomfortable to wear in summer.


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