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KOVR and ISHU design to protect your privacy

From reflective scarves to metallic fabrics

Encroachments on our privacy are becoming a common occurrence in today's world, from invisible chip technology to electromagnetic information transfer, and more and more fashion designers have started channelling their creativity into that realm. Clothing that protects your privacy is now more than ever a realistic development on the fashion scene, and the Netherlands also plays host to a number of unique and successful initiatives addressing privacy concerns. 

Blocking electromagnetic waves

Marcha Schagen and Leon Baauw are co-collaborators on their ongoing project, KOVR (pronounced cover). Schagen specialises in wearable items and Baauw's expertise is in chip technology. Last year, they started the collaboration to develop products which block both incoming and outgoing electromagnetic waves from devices like your mobile phone or bank card. They’ve made prototypes for a jacket and a bag, which will both stand out in a crowd, given shiny material they're made from – and that's all part of the statement. "I really want to convey the message in the shape," explains Schagen. The backpack is a lined bag made of stainless steel, while the jacket is 50% polyester and a 50% mix of copper and nickel. 

De opvallende zilverkleurige stoffen zijn ook onderdeel van het statement. © Suzanne Waijers
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De opvallende zilverkleurige stoffen zijn ook onderdeel van het statement. © Suzanne Waijers

Individuals choose their own privacy

The biggest downside to this is that you're out of reach when you're mobile phone is covered by that type of fabric, which is why black pockets have been sewn into the fabric. The designers' goal was to give users the choice to let their phones emit radio waves or not. "For us, the individual is paramount, so you make the choice," says Schagen. The design studio is currently in production, and though they’ve had a lot of interest and requests, they're keen to keep both hands on the production process, so they've had to get a few things in order first. 'I think we'll be able to start delivering in two months." Although both designers are still busy with their own plans, they both see a future in the idea. "I can see how we would take this further." 

Promotiebeeld van de ISHU sjaal.
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Promotiebeeld van de ISHU sjaal.

What’s the Ishu?

And then there's ISHU, a scarf that’s certain to be snapped up by celebrities around the world. Said Siddiqui, who grew up in The Netherlands and lives in London, has spent six years developing his concept, and the launch of his first scarf collection coincides with a moment when privacy forms an important part of the Western cultural zeitgeist. It even starts with the name itself. With a name like 'What's the Ishu', the spectre of privacy is already raised as a concern. Siddiqui wants to make people more aware of the issue: "Our society is still adapting to al the technological developments." 

Collection

The strong reflective fabric amplifies flashes from mobile phone cameras, overexposing photos and making faces unrecognisable. The scarf, available in two different models, is already sold online. A third variant, which blocks flashes from even cameras like DLSRs, hasn’t yet been officially released, thanks in part to a relatively high price tag. But the Dutchman behind the scarves launched two new items this month: a phone case and a necktie. They're a bit more affordable, which makes a life free from unwanted photographs that much more accessible. This week he gave his Instagram followers a sneak preview of the expanded collection. 

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