Anti Drone Hoodies: Hipster Cool or Political Protest?

Taking the fashion world by storm, UK designer Adam Harvey has capitalized on the growing fears over government surveillance technology and come up with what he refers to as ‘Stealth Wear’ – clothing made from material that makes the wearer invisible to thermal imaging. Or in other words, safe from drones. From the Guardian:

The “anti-drone hoodie” was the central attraction of Harvey’s Stealth Wear exhibition, which opened in central London in January, billed as a showcase for “counter-surveillance fashions”. It is a field Harvey has been pioneering for three years now, making headlines in the tech community along the way.

On Harvey’s website AHProjects, Harvey declares that his suite of new designs, “Tackle some of the most pressing and sophisticated forms of surveillance today.” His ‘countersurveillance solutions’ include, “A series of ‘Anti-Drone’ garments and the Off Pocket, an anti-phone accessory that allows you to instantly zero out your phone’s signal.”

According to the site the ‘Anti-Drone’ garments are apparently designed with a ‘highly metallized fabric’ that protects the wearer from thermal imaging surveillance technology that is used widely by UAVs/drones. Harvey’s line of ‘Anti Drone’ clothing consists of three different styles, two of which are ‘inspired by Muslim dress’ (the burqa and the scarf), and the hoodie – a symbol of UK youth resistance and anti authoritarianism.

Is this real political protest, or simply the next thing in the all consuming Hipster culture that absorbs cultural zeitgeists and commercializes them? Harvey seems to be genuine about making clothing that works (he’s even ceasing production on an anti x-ray t-shirt because of changes in body scanning policies), but given it is close to impossible for civilians to keep up with government technology, it seems, well, rather pointless.

But then again, it is art, and good art reflects the culture and time it was made in, and Harvey’s clothing line certainly does that. As he writes on his site:

Collectively, Stealth Wear is a vision for fashion that addresses the rise of surveillance, the power of those who surveil, and the growing need to exert control over what we are slowly losing, our privacy.

It may not work, and irritating Hipsters will certainly latch onto it, but it still represents an act of defiance in the face of growing government power where there are still no identifiable ways to stop it.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.