Mass surveillance concerns have launched something of a fashion movement. In recent years, we’ve seen everything from artist Adam Harvey’s anti-drone Stealth Wear to facial-recognition-thwarting T-shirts. Now, famed architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au is jumping on the bandwagon with a cape designed to block signals from your mobile devices.
The firm’s “CHBL Jammer Coat” rocks a Y2K solitary confinement vibe, but its creators say that the cape “enables its user to disappear.” Metallized fabrics within the cape halt radio waves, a feature that Coop Himmelb(l)au argues will stop other parties from tracking the user. The cape, along with several other conceptual fashion creations, will be displayed as part of the “Abiti di Lavoro” exhibition at the Milan Triennale later this month.
Privacy concerns have been on many people’s minds after Edward Snowden first blew the lid on the NSA’s citizen monitoring activities last summer, but the likelihood that anti-surveillance clothing like this could become commercially viable is pretty small. Right now, economics favor more surveillance, not less, as retailers get better at tracking and analyzing consumer behavior. If any piece of clothing is going to carve out a real privacy fashion niche, it probably won’t be a goofy-looking cape.