Japan Disaster Sparks Demand for Air-Conditioned Clothes

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Overwhelming Orders for Air-Conditioned Jackets

Ichigaya says he noticed an uptick in sales a few weeks after the disasters hit, a traditionally slow time of the year. He started to get calls from individual customers looking to buy button-up shirts to wear under their suits, an unusual request for a company that was used to dealing with medium- to large-sized manufacturers. Ichigaya got a call from the prime minister's office last month, requesting half a million air-conditioned jackets.

"The reality is, our company is not big enough to take on such orders," Ichigaya said. "Unfortunately, we had to turn that request down."

Kuchofuku employs 10 people in Japan, although the clothes are manufactured in China. The company expects to sell at least 40,000 air-conditioned products this year, and Ichigaya is hoping to take his cool invention beyond Japan.

He says he has already fielded calls from companies in China, India and the United States.

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