A year ago, a software developer in Toronto named Jamil Khan grew frustrated with the constant hassle of remembering mittens and scarves throughout the winter. He hated the puffy effect of shoving accessories in his pockets, along with his phone and everyday essentials. "I thought that this problem needed to be solved," he said Thursday. "I came up with this idea and told a few friends, not that many people were interested at that time, but I decided to quit my job and pursue this full time."
Khan began researching how to make a smarter parka that was both extremely practical and attractive. "I'm a software developer, I have nothing to do with fashion, but I can see what looks good and what [doesn't]," he said. With the help of Toronto-based designers who made initial samples, he used his own money to test over 15 different methods and ultimately solved his winter coat dilemma. The result is the aptly named Smart Parka, featuring a built-in scarf and gloves, removable lining, glove and beanie storage pockets, extendable length, detachable hood, detachable fur and a tracker tag in case of loss. The coat also has pockets for a phone, tablet and glasses. Got all that?
It turns out the Kickstarter community was just as frustrated with wandering gloves and awkward coat bulk. In less that two days on the fundraising site, Khan met his $30,000 goal to produce 100 coats, which is quite a feat considering that his campaign has 57 days left and that fashion is one of Kickstarter's least successful categories. "This was the perfect product for Kickstarter," he argued. "It's not just one invention, it's multiple inventions." And multiple options, too: there are three styles for men and four for women. Each style comes in four different colors. The parka will retail for $740 CAD (about $526 USD) but early Kickstarter backers can get one for as low as $295 CAD (about $210 USD).
If Khan raises enough to order 7,000 coats — the new goal "which I'm very hopeful that we will do," he said — his newly formed company North Aware Inc will be able to manufacture the coats in Canada instead of Taiwan. "I was hoping that we would reach this [$30,000] goal ultimately in maybe 20 days or a month, but within about 24, 30 hours? No, I was not expecting that," said Khan.
He added that none of the backers have reversed their pledges so far, which is unusual on Kickstarter. (About 10% of backers reverse pledges on average, he said.) The backers will receive their coats by August 2016 and are mostly Canadian, though Khan plans to focus on a U.S. audience next. "Trusting someone on Kickstarter is not easy, it takes a lot of credit and help from people who bring the change," said Khan. "We are very humbled." And warm.
See how the Smart Parka works in the video below and check out the Kickstarter campaign here.