The Fun and Functional Accessory for Your Festival Wardrobe
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
This sparkly coat-backpack is designed to keep you feeling warm, or cool … and hot.
By Zara Stone
Summertime means festival time, and music lovers have plenty to choose from — including our very own OZY Fest in Central Park, July 20-21. Just over half of all Americans will attend a live music event this year, according to Nielsen. While it’s easy to get swept away with the crowd when blissing out to beats from the Strokes or Ariana … it’s not so easy to find where you left your stuff when the set is over. Carrying a jacket hampers those dance moves, but without one, you’ll get chilly when night falls (#firstworldproblems).
Luckily, some ingenious inventors have been tackling this issue — and other festival-related problems, such as drug testing. After one too many frosty festival evenings, 30-year-old Rachelle Sloss came up with a solution for those who get cold and don’t “want to be weighed down by stuff,” she says. Her idea: a coat-backpack hybrid.
Each has three textures: sequins that change color when you stroke them, a snuggly faux-fur trim and a sleek latex-like lining.
By day, it’s a fluffy backpack, with space for water bottles and more, and by night it unfolds into a fleece-lined ankle-length coat with secret zip pockets for essentials. Each Youphoria coat ($395) is handmade — a custom creation that takes around 12 hours of love. They’re available in an array of shimmering colors with psychedelic names, like cosmic raspberry and midnight gold dust. The metallic mermaid-esque coat is particularly popular, Sloss says. But the coats go beyond mere festival fashion statements — they encourage play as well. Each has three textures: sequins that change color when stroked, a snuggly faux-fur trim and a sleek latex-like lining. All extra enjoyable to pet if you’re imbibing recreational substances.
The idea for designing the multipurpose coat was born during a period of disenchantment Sloss experienced at the nonprofit where she worked. Craving a creative outlet and wanting to come up with something useful for her festival adventures, she set to work — albeit with no prior fashion knowledge (she has a biochemistry degree). It was a learning experience. Some fabrics didn’t work, and she had to scrap them and start again. But she persevered. “I wanted to make something that creates more joy and connection,” she says. In 2018, the San Francisco–based entrepreneur started selling the coat under the Youphoria Festivalwear brand.
Youphoria (which has now expanded to tees and tank tops) isn’t the only coat-backpack hybrid on the market. There’s RuckJack ($59), launched in 2016, which turns from a lightweight drawstring-style bag into a slim-fitting rain jacket, available in orange, black and gray. Uniqlo has a $70 puffy jacket that squishes down into a bag, whereas the Packa ($38) is more of a poncho-plus-backpack cover-up (to keep your possessions dry). However, these options, while cheaper, are more functional than fun, and they lack the sparkle of Sloss’ custom coats, which tend to draw attention. “The jacket is so bright and interactive; it has the effect of connecting people who wouldn’t have otherwise talked or become friends,” Sloss says.
“It’s such a clever idea,” says Mia Kim, 25, who goes to two or more festivals a year. “I lose so many jackets that I stopped taking them with me.”
There are, of course, other fun ways to dress up your festival experience — from glowing hula hoops to fiber optic whips to LED corsets. Some old favorites, such as neon colors and tie-dye, will also be big trends this year, according to Lyst’s 2019 festival trend report. Denim panties, called janties, are going to be a thing too (but we’re sticking with comfort and glitter).
While the Youphoria is designed to double as a daypack, don’t expect loads of room — it’s not large enough to use as a carryall. It’s more about being multipurpose and traveling light (while making a sparkly statement). The $395 price tag is steep, but festivalgoers do tend to have comfortable backgrounds (35 percent come from households earning $80,000 plus a year).
Still, Sloss knows not everyone can afford a Youphoria coat. She hopes to lower costs in the future. In the meantime she tries to make up for the lack of access by gifting every festival attendee she meets with a pair of diffraction lenses: Rainbows dance when you look through them, making everyday life more shimmery and special. “I want the world to be a little bit magical for everyone,” she says.