Those of you who saw our last batch of runners up must have known that they weren't the whole story. So, in order flaunt a few more of our killer entrants, we decided to show off the best wearable designs. These umbrellas have left behind their sticky ancestors to explore the brave new world of hands-free rain deflection.Leaf Umbrella
The Leaf Umbrella is the closest among these to their fold-able brethren. While it looks like any old folder, there are two major differences. First, its boomerang shape allows for wearing over the shoulder like a gym bag, thus liberating an extra hand. More importantly, however, the entire umbrella is made from carefully engineered paper and cardboard to ensure minimal environmental impact. This is a huge plus, but also a little dangerous if not handled correctly. Water + Paper. You get the picture. With the right amount of engineering and care, though, this could be a killer design.
The Hanway Collection is a really interesting take on umbrella design. Basically, Geoffrey Baldwin, the designer has made a set of bags which can transform into wearable head coverings. They range from a handbag to a messenger in size, and cover more or less accordingly. While their materials are nice (recycled awnings and waste from cutting board manufacturing), and their morphing ability is strong, we can't help but wonder what happens to the stuff in your bag as you contort it around your head. Definitely an innovative concept, and with a little tweaking, it could be a winner.
The Ella umbrella abstracts the idea of an umbrella even further, leaving just a flexible sheet that extends from a case worn on the user's back. The sheer polyethylene sheet is kept tight by the same sort of spring tension that expands those nylon and wire clothes hampers. The graceful curves of the Ella make it a beautiful fashion statement, and the compact size of it when folded makes it much more likely to be carried. We also loved the end-of-life re-purposing into fog catchers in parched countries, though it might be quite a lot to expect to get enough back for such a business.
Of course, in any category, you get one that really pushes the edge of what's allowed. Rainbag is just that. Basically a poncho, made from a bag, it almost seems to stupidly simple to be a real concept. However, when you think about the possibility of it, a bag like this could be made to be relatively durable, and use an absolute minimum of material. It's easily portable. It can be recycled, since there's nothing to disassemble. Really, aside from the "goofy looking" aspect, it's a great solution. Our verdict is to develop these, but market them toward edgy youngsters who would like theirs printed with cool graphics, rather than businessmen and women, who might care more about looking sharp.
All in all, the wearables was a strong category in our contest. Thanks to all these great entrants. Check out the winners at the Umbrella Inside Out Contest Homepage. And stay tuned for more exploration of the entrants.