February 2020

AVOID is a fashion collection that aims to counteract the loss of control over personal data in our connected world. These days, many people feel uneasy about the extent to which their data is being tracked and monitored – whether by cell phones, surveillance cameras or even robot vacuum cleaners. In order to provide these people with some simple tools to protect their privacy, the collection offers a wearable “dead zone“, made possible by a specially designed material of quilted copper mesh.

AVOID consists of a hooded pullover and a fanny pack. In times when you feel like being “offline“, cell phones, smart watches or NFC-enabled credit cards can simply be packed in the shielded pockets. The fanny pack also includes a built-in voice jammer that uses ultrasound to confuse microphones, but not conversations. The large hood provides protection from surveillance cameras and makes wearing AVOID a statement for data privacy.

Is my cell phone listening without being asked? Is the robot vacuum cleaner creating a detailed plan of my apartment at this very moment? Is that a camera equipped with facial recognition software? Who can access my personal data and what does my movement profile reveal about me? Our comfortable life with connected devices leaves many with a queasy feeling. AVOID is a fashion collection that aims to counteract the loss of control over personal data in our connected world. It is designed for all who are concerned about their privacy and who want to take a stand against surveillance mechanisms and the trade in data.

The project started with intensive research into data collection, surveillance techniques in our society and the uncertainty people feel when it comes to their personal data and how it is being tracked. Our permanent companions, such as our cell phones or smart watches, collect sensitive data ranging from our location to heart rate. But less obvious things can also be tracked; for example, data from smartphone sensors can be used to infer a user's activity, resulting in precise user profiles when combined with other personal data. In a highly complex world of data flows, avoid offers a simple solution by creating a “wearable dead zone“ (tragbares Funkloch).

Intensive material research has led to the development of a shielding fabric specially designed for the AVOID collection. Made from quilted copper mesh, the material reflects electromagnetic radiation. When a device is encased in this fabric, it will lose reception immediately. This way, users decide for themselves when to be online, reachable, connected and to a certain extent trackable ¬– and when not to be, thereby reclaiming a bit of control over their data.

AVOID consists of a hoodie and a fanny pack. At times when people want to be "offline," cell phones, smartwatches or wallets with NFC-enabled cards can easily be packed into the shielded pockets. The sweater's oversized hood provides protection from surveillance cameras, which are typically located above face level. Plus, the fanny pack has a built-in voice jammer: it is activated when the bag is flipped open from the side and works with ultrasonic sounds to jam microphones, but not conversations. The shiny copper details and the oversized hood make wearing AVOID a statement for data protection and privacy.