Fashion Is Surveillance
Is Technology

How Wearable Tech Gives Us Style Advice for a Dystopic Future

Text: Julia Cooper

Photography: Myles Hall

45 minutes of app use and 90 notifications with 85 time checks, plus a 30 minute workout with music playback will allow for a battery life of up to 18 hours. The lifespan of your wearable tech can be optimized by maintaining ambient temperatures with a range of 62° to 72° F. Battery life and real life are one in the same. A wristwatch dispatches a drone from Amazon to deliver toothpaste, a fitness app distracts from a vast existential void. Metadata collection morphs into microdata tracking by the NSA. Wearability becomes seamless state surveillance. 

You pull on worn in jeans and fiddle with your AirPods until they rest in the tiny crevice of your ear. Both are so comfortable, familiar like limbs, that you forget you’re wearing either. Engineered comfort has a history much longer than any theory of the human cyborg. Levi Strauss was founded in 1853 by a man chasing the gold rush and a patent. The future was in new materials, one way or the other. Each AirPod weighs 4 grams for a total of 8 grams, or 0.28 ounces.

Your Fitbit tells you: 5,498 steps taken, 825 calories burned, and six hours of sleep with only eight minutes of restlessness. Your Fitbit thinks you’re doing great. Fitbit is collecting your health data and will likely sell it to insurance companies later who will hike your premiums, but it feels good to have your efforts seen. Now you’re never alone. Your Fitbit emits a steady stream of electromagnetic field radiation that orbits you at all times. A slow and steady toxicity. 

Elon Musk thinks we will all become house cats to our robots one day. But maybe Musk has got it backwards. Instead of A.I. making us obsolete, perhaps it will bring out a cyborg impulse that has laid dormant until now. Our wearable tech will stop coming off before bed or in the shower. Wearables will become second skin—not just close at hand or on trend, but appendages—until each movement, each thought is automated, recorded, analyzed, and optimized. Vulnerability will be encased in indium tin oxide with no sharp corners and GPS-enabled.

It felt a bit odd to give up your prints in the name of privacy. But you watched as the grey outline of a thumbprint, nearly the size of the screen, gradually changed to a swirl of red lines matching those on your skin. The iPhone jumped in small vibrations as it recorded your physical data—ecstatic to get to know you. Apple’s expanding database of biometric information binds your body to their technology. That data will probably be hacked, or leaked to third parties. Maybe to your own government. The impression of your epidermal ridges for sale on the dark web.

Text: Julia Cooper
Photography: Myles Hall
Styling: Felix Leblhuber
Model: Kye Howell / The Society