Stealth Wear: Privacy Concerns Addressed with Weird Fashion

By Wesley Fenlon

Light technology and high fashion mix into a cyberpunk-like take on clothing with anti-spying features built in.

If the fashion world's overriding goal is to stay trendy, reacting to this year's major controversies--government surveillance and the privacy worries surrounding new technologies like Google Glass--should come as no surprise. The New York Times writes that this year has, sure enough, seen the rise of stealth wear, which looks and sounds as cyberpunk as any fashion line possibly could.

What is stealth wear? Designer Adam Harvey exhibited a line of hoodies and cloaks in London earlier this year called "Anti-Drone Wear." As his website describes: "The ‘Anti-Drone’ garments are designed with a metallized fabric that protects against thermal imaging surveillance, a technology used widely by UAVs/drones. The enhanced garments are lightweight, breathable, and safe to wear. They work by using highly metallized fibers to reflect heat, thereby masking the wearer’s thermal signature."

Image credit: Adam Harvey

Another project Harvey worked on, named CV Dazzle after computer vision and dazzle camouflage, used hair and makeup techniques to fool facial recognition tech. Forget the clothing--this is proto-cyberpunk, a less intrusive version of the facial surgery common to characters in dark and dirty sci-fi features.

Of course, these are just concepts, and Harvey's clothes will likely never go on sale in the form the exist today. But their existence reflects that these are issues people take seriously, though perhaps not seriously enough to wear clothes of shiny metallic materials. If Google Glass remains controversial as its adoption expands, something like CV Dazzle may well become the go-to privacy counter.

True cyberpunk fashion, however, will require a whole lot more leather.