In a world where turning your phone off is akin to cutting off a limb, and hacking scandals fill headlines, the line between connectivity and privacy has become very blurred. In response, London-based and Sydney-born Zoltan Csaki has created a range of menswear around his trademarked UnPocket; designed to protect the wearer’s cards, ePassport and electronic devices.
Csaki’s label, The Affair, was created seven years ago and has always focused on creating fashion inspired by literature. “I’d been thinking about getting into menswear for a while and it just felt right to return to the same novel (George Orwell’s 1984) that started the whole journey in the first place. A few months later Edward Snowden and the NSA leaks burst onto the scene and I became a bit obsessed,” explains Csaki.
The UnPocket is made from layers of police-grade metallised fabrics that block cellular, wifi, GPS and RFID signals from reaching anything inside the pocket. This makes the wearer unhackable, protects them from location tracking and prevents wireless identity theft. While these may seem like drastic measures, large-scale surveillance undertaken by America’s National Security Agency, which Snowden revealed had searched email content and tracked and mapped cell-phone locations, is just the tip of the iceberg.
With a function-first approach Csanki sought to create wearable garments that embodied the friction between Orwell’s Outer and Inner parties. “Finding a balance between being faithful to Orwell’s world of Airstrip One, and creating something that men want to wear today was delicate, and we had to be mindful that we were making menswear not a film wardrobe,” says Csaki. The resulting design details; waxed canvas collars and oversized eyelets, subtly draw attention to the utilitarian nature of the garments.
Currently 24 hours into its Kickstarter campaign, and not far off its funding goal, Csaki says The Affair prefers to use crowdfunding to cut out the retail middleman and offer customers the wholesale price.
While this dystopic apparel might seem like a gimmick to most, Csaki sees it as a serious call to action. “Snowden risked everything to force a public dialogue about what privacy means in the digital age and the least we can do is tear ourselves away from Instagram for a minute and pay attention.”