How Hackers, Hacktivists, Security Researchers, Pentesters, System Administrators, and Cybersecurity Pros have Influenced Cyberpunk Fashion
While it's difficult to find a precise definition of Cyberpunk fashion, most people tend to agree it should envoke the cyberpunk philosophy of "High Tech, Low Life". The two elements at play here is this need for a techy or futuristic component and a casual or comfortable delivery.
Hackers and Cybersecurity Pros don't tend to be known for their sense of fashion, but fashion does still play a prominent role in any mass gatherings of people at events such as the cybersecurity conference, DEFCON. When we go to these events and conferences we like to signal who we are, even unconsciously, by wearing clothes that tell this story.
The fashion industry has also been influenced by hacker culture. British fashion designer John Galliano presented a new collection of clothes just four months after the release of The Matrix. He explained to Vogue that his collection was "deeply inspired" by the movie. Canadian Designer Adrian Wu also had a model sport the Guy Fawkes mask during Toronto Fashion Week, a mask associated with the infamous hacking group Anonymous.
The movie Hackers which features actresses Angelina Jolie and Johnny Lee Miller playing very cool looking hackers surrounded by other cool looking hackers has also been a source of inspiration for some designers.
What do Hackers and Cybersecurity Professionals Wear to DEFCON, Black Hat, DerbyCon, Hackers on Planet Earth, and others?
There's no set dress code to these events so hackers tend to wear something that reflects their personal style, something they might wear in their day to day life. For some cybersecurity professionals, this will be casual cargo pants, a band or movie t-shirt, and comfortable shoes such as sliders or hiking boots.
Other hackers may choose to dress in a more tailored cyberpunk way with vinyl clothing, maybe leathers or denim jackets and large leather boots. A colorful cyberpunk mohawk is also a common sight. Wearable tech is a very common theme with smartwatches being the most popular.
Clothing choice also tends to be restricted around the weather. DEFCON takes place in Las Vegas during the summer which is known for being extremely hot, even into the evening. This means even the most fashion conscious hackers will likely discard their cyberpunk jackets as soon as possible.
On a Reddit thread about what to wear to DEFCON, user Hotelbravo722 said:
Wear whatever you feel comfortable with in 100°F+ weather. Bring multiple outfits as you will sweat.
Cybersecurity enthusiasts who attend DEFCON will get a DEFCON badge, but there are plenty of other badges attendees like to wear to show their support for certain groups. A few months before DEFCON you can see these badges popping up on websites, often made by indie developers who want to draw attention to their brand and develop a sense of community for their fans.
If you're attending DEFCON you should also bring a lightweight bag because you'll likely be picking up some items while you're there that you won't want to carry.
You can also bring your own drinks and snacks in your bag to save yourself from buying food on the strip which can be very pricy. Most hackers will also be bringing an RFID blocking wallet and a battery pack, which you can pick up on Amazon for a small price.
Ultimately, the dress code at DEFCON and other cybersecurity conferences is relaxed so you should wear something you feel comfortable in, whether that's shorts and a t-shirt, or a full cyberpunk outfit clad with leather pants and vest, maybe a trench coat and a pair of heavy boots.
Anything goes, so be as creative as you want or don't want, and go have some cybersecurity fun!
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