Geeking Science: Fashion Meets the Surveillance Age

From the Reflectacles Kickstarter

So after writing the Dark Web Trope Editing Rant in September, my paranoia is running higher. Just a little.

Did you know that there is a whole Fashion subset to avoid the surveillance cameras everywhere?

Here are some Fashion Statements to say something about the person wearing them, either tin-hat-paranoia or they-really-are-out-to-get-you. The accessories could make for some exciting additions to a near future sci-fi or a contemporary thriller.

  1. Makeup and Hair – Asymmetrical is the key. Bright splotches of color hair. Cover or obscure the eye with spikes and decorations. Squares with high differentiation of coloring – black and white. Jewels applied randomly to the face, especially the nose and cheekbones. Gorgeous and disturbing to a species hard-programmed for symmetry. The machines also freak out a little. (See cvdazzle for examples.)
  2. Pattern Recognition Disruption Scarfs – Put on a lacy scarf with dots or mini-faces. For example, the HyperFace scarf has 1,200 facial shapes to blow the surveillance camera software to bits.
  3. Health masks – Those face masks people are wearing to prevent transmission of disease. They may be keeping other transmissions and invasions at bay. Popular among protesters around the world, especially when holding a gathering near suppressive government buildings.
  4. RFID Blocking Wallets – With the credit cards being RFID chipped now, pick up a wallet to keep someone from reading accessing the credit just by talking down the street beside you.
  5. Metallic Fabric Jackets (with or without hoodies) – But the RFID and microchips go beyond just the wallet, dogs are chipped, medical history may be on chips soon, and some medical machines already are microchipped and can be programmed for injections. Pick up a metallic jacket to keep criminals from scanning the microchips … or reprogramming them.
  6. IR Privacy Eyewear – Full infrared (IR) protection on the sunglasses prevent surveillance cameras from getting eyeshape, one of the most important aspects of facial recognition. A bonus is manufacturing the frames to be extra reflective – this makes the wearer more visible at night when crossing the street while also completely screwing with the camera’s ability to see the person’s face.
  7. Antiflash Clothing – Prismatic metallic ink which interferes when paparazzi beat on a celebrity with flashbulbs. Suddenly their greatest tool of humiliation destroys the very picture they are trying to take. Also great for those days when a politician, or ordinary citizens caught up in a mess, takes a walk of shame before proof of innocence or guilt is established. Also useful for the next company party with the open bar; no pictures, no proof.
  8. Infrared Ballcaps – The brim of the cap shines an IR light on the face, making it too bright for surveillance cameras to see. Perfect for those late night run to Walmart, and you don’t want to get dolled up in an anti-surveillance fashion statement.


Bacchi, Umberto and Suliman, Adela. “Face masks to decoy t-shirts: The rise of anti-surveillance fashion”. Reuters. 2019 September 26. – Last viewed 11/13/2019.

CV Dazzle. “Camouflage from face detection.” cvdazzle. 2017 August 22. – Last viewed 11/13/2019.

Dobush, Grace. “Privacy by design: How fashion combats surveillance”. The Christian Science Monitor. 2017 January 27. – Last viewed 11/13/2019.

Hern, Alex. “The fashion line designed to trick surveillance cameras”. 2019 August 14. – Last viewed 11/13/2019.

Hu, Jane C. “When Will TJ Maxx Sell Anti-Surveillance Fashion?” Slate. 2019 August 15. – Last viewed 11/13/2019.

Jacobs, Bel. “How what you wear can help you avoid surveillance.” BBC. 2017 March 20. – Last viewed 11/13/2019.

Reflectables. “IRpair & Phantom – Privacy Eyewear.” Kickstarter. 2019 November. – Last viewed 11/13/2019.