The garments were manufactured with two layers of dye—a permanent, colored dye overlaid with a thermochromic, colorless dye that would change color with the temperature of the clothing. If you’re thinking that sounds like a disaster for people who sweat profusely (or at all), you’re not the only one. But the chairman of Hypercolor manufacturer Generra insisted at the time that sweat-related blotches were abstract and relatively unnoticeable, and the public seemed to agree with him. The shirts, tank tops, and shorts were the hottest trend of 1991—so successful that Generra couldn’t keep up with the demand. By the time they did increase output, the novelty had all but worn off, and the company folded in 1992.
Hypercolor’s cultural impact may have been short-lived, but if you’re one of the many people who thinks color-changing clothing seems like tons of fun, there’s still hope: Shadow Shifter has its own heat-reactive line of T-shirts available on Amazon.
According to the product information, the shirts use “improved color-shifting technology” from the Hypercolor days, and they’re safe for machine-washing and drying. The color combinations vary based on whether you’re ordering a men’s, women’s, or children’s size, but some of your options are green to yellow, purple to pink, and orange to white.
Though wearing a color-changing shirt in your normal life might be amusing enough on its own, there are also plenty of activities that the shirts could make much more interesting—you’d actually be able to see who got tapped during a game of tag, for example, and anything with water balloons, squirt guns, or sprinklers would be way more colorful.
If you’re looking to relive your early-’90s Hypercolor memories or get in on the action for the first time, you can check out Shadow Shifter’s collection here, with prices starting at $25.
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