Anti-Surveillance Clothing Line: Reflection on Social Media Communication

Shui Leung Cheuk, Kannis
June 5

We are living in a prison. Everyone is being monitored. According to Foucault’s concept of ‘panopticism’, social media networks are seen as a sinister force. Individual seems to be faint and powerless to say ‘NO’ to the digital surveillance since social media such as Facebook, Google and Instagram became a ‘MUST’ in everyone’s life. Pessimistically, we are unavoidable to expose our privacy; the word ‘private’ cannot be clearly defined in the digital age anymore.

Vivienne Westwood  6a00e54ecca8b9883301630576e078970d-650wi
Picture from Lucky Magazine and The Style Con)

Is there another way that we can defense for ourselves? Fashion and clothing, as forms of communication, are the tools of designers to send silent but significant message in the society. For example, in the early 1970s, Vivienne Westwood synthesized clothing and music that shaped the Punk fashion era in UK, as a promotion of individual freedom. Another example is that, Jean Paul Gaultier created Madonna’s cone bras in the nineties, as a garment wearing outside, not as underwear hidden beneath other clothes, in order to achieve the invention of a symbol of feminine power and sexual freedom. By this token, fashion can be another way to deliver our social statement, to reject digital surveillance.

I’m about to introduce an anti-surveillance clothing line showcased last year in London; named ‘Stealth Wear’, a collection designed to make the wearer nearly invisible to drones, provided a opposite attitude to the digital surveillance.


(Picture from STEALTH WEAR)

“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.” (Harvey, 2013)

(Picture from STEALTH WEAR)

Adam Harvey, the designer of ‘Stealth Wear’, believes that public are exposing under the camera control, cameras was not art-making tools instead of surveillance society since 911. He designed a creative and avant-garde clothing line, includes hoodies, t-shirts, caps and burqas, smart phone protectors as well. All garments use reflective and metallic fabric (like the kind used in protective gear for firefighters), to reduce one’s thermal footprint. In theory, this limits one’s visibility to aerial surveillance vehicles employing heat-imaging cameras to track people on the ground.

(Picture from STEALTH WEAR)

Obviously, Harvey aimed to make a strong statement: explore the aesthetics of privacy and the potential for fashion to challenge authoritarian surveillance.

(Picture from 

From my perspective, the most inspiring garment is the design of burqa, which is the Muslim women religious and traditional wear to cover their whole bodies (sometimes including eyes) in public. Harvey seems to argue that burqa is a violation of women’s right, similar to our freedom and privacy nowadays in the surveillance society. However, Harvey’s burqa was designed to be invisible, a way to challenge the authority, to free our privacy.

‘Stealth Wear’ was not only a creative invention of the garment, but an attitude of counter-surveillance, a way of social statement. I have to say that we can’t live without social media, as long as we need to communicate and connect with others. However, there is always an alternative way to make our social statement. Fashion does.

Silence no more. We are not living in a prison. We can make a choice.


Foucault, Michel. (1995) Discipline and Punish. Vintage, REP edition, 201.
Jansson, Mathilde. (2010, February 1) Fashion as Medium. Retrieved from
Wortham, Jenna. (2013, June 29)New York Times. Retrieved from


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