Fashion Meets Technology With Surveillance Clothing
In a South by Southwest conference located in Austin, Texas held designers who specialize in counter-surveillance fashion. A group of women who are of colour started a company called Hyphen-Labs. These women are scientists, architects, and engineers who are creating this type of fashion because of the critical times that lie in the United States.
Ashley Baccus-Clark was one of the designers showing off her latest piece with her partner Carmen Aguilar y Wedge. Together, they invented an installation called “NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism”. It features a scientific beauty salon for black women. In this virtual salon, hairdressers braid your hair, meant to give the meaning of a brain power boost. Aguilar has said that they created this salon to signify black women as the “pioneers of brain optimisation”.
There were also other showcases that were constructed to protect the identity of the person who is wearing it. It was described as a sun visor that was meant to keep harm away from the individual. This means that when you are wearing the sun visor, the person who is looking at you is reflected, like a mirror, but they cannot see your eyes. It is a great project because it allows the person commenting or making unappealing comments to see what they look like when they are speaking those words. Other women in the conference began to explain a pair of hoop earrings, ones that you can wear just about anywhere, right? Well these hoop earrings are different. They have built-in headphones and microphones. The women said it would useful if you get stopped by police and are able to record the interaction between you and the officer.
In this day and age, you will see police officers with dashboard-cameras and body cameras, but the media does not always stay truthful to what we are seeing from their perspective. These women are giving people the power of footage now and we are able to use the fashion piece discretely so nothing else could come up from it if we have a second side to a story.
It gets better when another woman presented a beautiful pink and purple scarf. This scarf is designed to camouflage the person wearing it to not be recognised by facial recognition software. The scarf is designed by HypeFace’s Adam Harvey, who was attempting to mask out face detection algorithms. You are able to blend in with other faces in the background if you are ever caught on camera. He now has a whole line of stealth wear such as anti-drone burkas and hijabs. Because they are made from silver textiles, they are very expensive.
Because of what it costs to make them, Harvey is having a difficult time trying to make this invention known to everyone else, which is a con because so many people could benefit from it. All these new designs are creating a safe space for people to often hide from what is happening with the world. It is almost like a barrier between you and your body, almost making yourself invisible. Harvey is now collaborating with Hyphen-Labs to create more undercover clothing.