Antonelli, Paola, ‘safe: Design Takes on Risk’ exhibition catalogue (Museum of Modern Art, New York) p. 103, 108, 109, 198 Puma Bike from the Puma Tribranded Collection 2004

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Antonelli, Paola, ‘SAFE: Design Takes on Risk’ exhibition catalogue (Museum of Modern Art, New York) p.103, 108, 109, 198
Puma Bike from the Puma Tribranded Collection 2004

Biomega, Vexed Generation (see page 108), and the sports-equipment manufacturer Puma joined forces to launch a limited edition called Tribranded Collection as part of the Urban Mobility line. It consists of a bike and a range of accessories and garments designer for ease of movement and everyday commuting. The Puma Bike created by Skibsted is the result of this collaborative initiative.

Scroll Top Backpack and Karrysafe Screamer bag

In 2002 Design Against Crime collaborated with clothing designers Adam Thorpe and Joe Hunter of Vexed Generation to develop the Karrysafe line of antitheft bags and wearable accessories. Established in London 1994, Vexed Generation produces clothes that suit an urban setting and promote environmental and social issued. Air pollution, surveillance, and civil liberties are often addressed by incorporating unique design solutions and technologies, like respiratory protection or high-performance fabrics that are waterproof, breathable, reflective, fire-retardant, and knife-resistant (see page 198). Some pieces are specifically designed for bike users, since the designers of Vexed Generation consider biking the ideal means of transportation in an urban setting (see page 103).

The philosophy of this design initiative is that the best protection against crime is awareness and the willingness to take some basic precautions in public places. The bags incorporate materials and electronic technologies used in the automotive and aircraft industries, such as Cordure – a high-performance durable textile material resistant to abrasion – and electronic alarms. Both systems can be found in the Karryfront Screamer laptop bag. The built-in antiattack alarm automatically starts “screaming” at 138 decibels if the bag is forcibly removed from its owner. The two-way strap allows the option of carrying it across the front while walking or on the back if cycling. Another variant, the Scroll Top Backpack, features a Velcro scrolling top that avoids dipping, as its noise will alert the owner. It is made of slash-proof materials and has an antilifting clip and a double-thick strap that make access even more difficult.

The Phonesafe wrist holder (opposite) offers a hand-free way of carrying a cell phone and is slim enough to be worn under clothes, with additional pockets for cards and keys. It also lets the user receive calls without removing the phone from the stretch pouch.

With design focused on users’ needs, these accessories are meant to resist any attempt of aggression and discourage street robbers and pickpockets.
Vexed_Generation_in_‘Architectural_Design’_Vol._70_No._6_(Bognor_Regis:_Wiley-Academy,_2000)_p.90-91'>See and Be Seen (SABS) Parka - image on p.198

Vexed Generation in ‘Architectural Design’ Vol. 70 No. 6 (Bognor Regis: Wiley-Academy, 2000) p.90-91

It is not the architectural world alone that is taking the lead in innovative retail spaces. Vexed Generation is small London fashion house that invents exciting and creative themed environments to accompany its edgy, urban designs. The creation of its own ephemeral retail sets is a means of bypassing the catwalk and taking its work directly to the public.

Adam Thorpe and Joe Hunter of Vexed Generation have been designing and retailing unique clothing products since their inaugural collection 1995; which included the much-copied one-strap bag.

A small, independent operation, Vexed chose not to show its clothing via the conventional catwalk show, but rather to invest its ideas in a more permanent retail installation, combining creativity with commerce, and allowing both press and public to experience the collections and concept firs-hand rather than through the filter of media and buyers’ opinion. Vexed collaborates with designers, artists and musicians to crate the space sin which to display and retail its collections.

The first Vexed retail installation, opened in 1995, sought to create an environment reflecting the collection’s design brief: London’s street environment in 1994/1995 – surveillance versus society, right and responsibilities, air quality, civil rights. Since the front window was whited out, passers-by could only view the interior via a small monochrome TV screen. The interior space was under constant surveillance. The curve, backlit walls displayed statistical information relating to the social and ecological urban environment. The floor was of a white gravel. This provided easy maintenance and alerted those who entered to a ‘change in space’ form the street outside. The clothing was displayed in a glass case in which holes were cut to allow visitors to touch and view the garment but not remove them. A key aspect of the installation was the absence of ‘staff’: only if you ventured downstairs would you find the Vexed crew within the public access gallery beside the record decks and ‘alternative TV service’ made up of combined video works from the public.
Shop 2, 1996/7, was The Green Shop. Located on the first floor of 3 Berwick Street – down an alleyway, along a dark corridor and up a spiral staircase – it is continued the environmental theme. Clothing was displayed on inflatable bags that, linked to an air compressor, inflated and deflated on a timer, giving the impression of ‘breathing clothes and walls’. The open-access gallery and decks were located in the changing area and changing area and counter respectively.
Shop 3, The Grow Room, saw the garments arranged in rows in the centre of the space. Fast-growing plants such as ivy, clematis and passiflora grew up through the clothing, sprouting from armholes and neck openings, an optimistic reference to the strength and adaptability of the nature. The walls were lined up with blackboards inviting people to enter their personal details, an experiment in public/private access information. The floor covering was compromised of £750 worth of one-penny pieces, an example of safety in numbers: you can leave hundreds of pounds on the floor in small coins and not worry that they will be removed. People may also contribute new pennies, thus producing a ‘wishing floor’.
In Shop 4, A Stitch in Time, incorporating ‘The Label Database’, the downstairs corridor moved towards you as you entered. It was in fact a water ramp, whose trickle of water was reflected around black glass walls. Brush-matting flooring on the staircase and display area dried your feet as you approached the changing/ gallery area, where your footprints were taken on a Plasticine floor. Moving walls increased the display areas and could create separate spaces for changing. Clothing was displayed on mannequins, some standing, some suspended over a black glass floor which reflected the padding on the ceiling and wall on which people could record their presence in thread. They could also print a name label and sew it on the wall, creating a textile database of customers and collaborators.

Barley, Nick; Douglas, Caroline; Lack, Jessica & Stetter, Alex ‘Lost & Found: Critical Voices in New British Design’ (London: Birkhauser | The British Council, 1999) p. 94, 106, 114.
“You put up a surveillance camera- I’ll put up a collar.” Vexed Generation’s ballistic parka, in knife-, and fire-proof nylon, highlights the erosion of civil liberties in the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act which, among other things, made it illegal to hide one’s face in a demonstration. If increased surveillance and police powers of arrest have helped to erode community and breed paranoia in the 1990s, Vexed Generation’s agitprop streetwear simultaneously communicates these issues and protects their wearers from their worst effects. Beneath the turned up collar is an anti-pollution facemask. Highlighting social and political questions, the Vexed designers respond to their own experience of London street life in the 1990s: surveillance (a hood that conceals the face), the environment (a sleeve pocket for an anti-pollution mask), the quick change (a skirt that zips into a pair of trousers).” P.94.
“…Vexed Generation highlights the hazards of city life. These competing narratives sketch a complex and multi-faceted city, a London not generally represented in its image as a centre of fashion.” P. 94.

“Adam Thorpe and Joe Hunter are Vexed. Neither had a formal fashion training; Thorpe studied Microbiology at Kingston University and Hunter graduated as a graphic designer at Middlesex in 1990, but together they have created a label which epitomises the attitude of a growing number of fashion designers who eschew the culture of the catwalk.

Vexed Generation have powerful political convictions which have led them to design solutions to social problems as well as fashionable clothes. Bags that are easier to carry and harder to snatch; trousers made in light weight, high-tech hardwearing materials with soft speedy Velcro fastenings replacing old fashioned zips, buttons and poppers. All of their clothes are derived from their conviction that urban conditions place us under constant danger. Air pollution, constant surveillance, over-zealous riot police and the risk of an attack form a threat to our civil liberties. The garments parody the situation, and then offer some protection too.

The Vexed parka, the duo’s most notorious garment, is made from “Ministry of Defence-specification nylon; the same stuff they use in flak jackets,” says Thorpe. The parka’s knife-repellent, fire-resistant fabric is padded around the spine and kidney areas, and has a between-the-legs fastening to protect the groin.

The more recent woollen Shark Coat was developed in response to the contemporary political landscape in Britain. The abundance of surveillance cameras in city streets- characterised at its most extreme by new multi-million pound digital facial recognition system installed by the London Borough of Newham- provided an impetus for the design of the Shark Coat. Like other Vexed garments it features a collar which can transform into a hood, offering the wearer the option of anonymity. “The higher the levels of surveillance, the higher the collarlines of the populace!” says Thorpe. Moreover, the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act effectively renders it illegal to cover one’s face in a political demonstration by granting the police powers to confiscate face coverings. This could have the ironic effect of making the garments an illegal political protest in their own right.

As a designed response to the current socio-political climate in urban Britain, Vexed Generation’s clothing positions itself far away from the concerns of the fashion establishment. The garments are, nevertheless, clearly articulated and architecturally structured, with a shrewd sense of style which has made some of the cheaper designs enormously popular in London. As well as being politically aware, Vexed Generation claim modestly that their company aims to be “commercially viable”. P. 114.

P. 106: Image of Black Ballistic Parka ’99 by Vexed Generation

Bolton, Andrew ‘The Supermodern Wardrobe’ (London: V&A Publications, 2002) p. 14, 38-9, 44-5, 49, 53-5, 76, 77-80, 86-7, 99-103, 39, 44, 49, 62, 74, 77, 81, 85, 102, 122
“By contrast, many designers of supermodern clothing, as befitting the combative metaphor of the contemporary city, look to military and occupational uniforms for their inspiration. This is reflected in both the materials and styling of much supermodern clothing. The ‘Vexed Parka’ by the London-based label Vexed Generation, for instance, is made from ballistics nylon and is styled after police riot gear. Designed by Adam Thorpe and Joe Hunter, the founders of Vexed Generation, the ‘Vexed Parka’ formed part of their debut Autumn/Winter 1995-1996 collection. It was a reaction to the increasingly military tactics of policemen during the various political demonstrations in London, particularly those that took place as the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill (1994) was going through parliament. On one level, the parka parodies riot gear, but on another it offers the wearer practical protection against the behaviour of over-zealous police officers. Made from knife-repellent, fire-resistant nylon, it is padded around the spine and kidney areas and has a between-the-legs fastening. As Thorpe and Hunter explain, ‘Riot police always debilitate demonstrators by going for the groin, our parka provides protection against this form of attack.’ Thorpe’s and Hunter’s ‘warrior wear’ or ‘agitprop streetwear’ is reflective of their philosophy that urban life is an unfolding riot against which we must protect ourselves. Their clothes could not be a more appropriate response to the warfare or battleground metaphor of the contemporary urban city.

Vexed generation, like many designers of supermodern clothing, adopt and adapt certain physical characteristics of uniforms in order to highlight and draw attention to the differences between uniform and non-uniform wearers.” P. 14-15

“Adam Thorpe and Joe Hunter, the designers of Vexed Generation, have also tried to blur the territory between luggage and clothing. This is perhaps most apparent in their ingenious ‘Wrap Liberation’, which formed part of their Autumn/Winter 1999-2000 collection. The garment, which is designed for men and women, resembles a mantra ray when laid flat. Through the use of zippers, it can be worn in a number of ways, including a stole, a jacket and a waistcoat. As well as being transformative, the zippers also allow for the storage of a variety of daily necessities. A zip down the centre back opens up into an A4 pocket for documents and files. Zips at the sides allow for the storage of smaller items such as wallets, purses, Walkmans and mobile ‘phones. As Thorpe and Hunter explain, the inspiration behind Wrap Liberation came from a wide range of sources, including the Japanese kimono and the straitjacket. The influence of the kimono can be seen in the technique of wrapping and ‘secret’ storage facilities. A kimono has a number of places to store money and small personal objects, such as the folds in the collar and sleeves. The influence of the straitjacket can be seen in the restrictive nature of the garment. If the wearer inserts her hands in the sleeves of the garment and the sleeves are then fastened at the waist, the wearer is left incapacitated. The wearer can release herself by unzipping various sections.

Wrap Liberation is both a kind of Houdini scarf and a kind of glamour wrap. Another inspiration came from Christian Dior’s 1957 ‘Normandie’ suit, comprising jacket, skirt and stole. Thorpe and Hunter were astonished by the ‘absurd, debilitating and almost unwearable nature’ of the Normandie suit and wanted to reflect these trails in Wrap Liberation. They also wanted to reflect the beauty of the suit through the use of luxurious materials. For instance, one version of Wrap Liberation, which Thorpe and Hunter call the ‘ultimate glamour wrap’, was made in leather with a Kevlar gold lining. From one point of view, Wrap Liberation can be regarded as a contradictory garment because it restricts as well as facilitates movement. But as Thorpe and Hunter explain, ‘We wanted to make a garment that appeared to imprison the wearer, but actually sets her free. Wrap Liberation allows the wearer to move through urban spaces with more ease and comfort. Her hands are liberated from the carrying of bags or suitcases. With Wrap Liberation, incarceration becomes emancipation.’ As a consequence, Wrap Liberation not only adopts the functional reading of luggage, but also its symbolic reading. For as Irit Rogoff observes in Terra Infirma: Geography’s Visual Culture (2000), ‘Like many other important terms such as “exile”, “diaspora”, “migration” or “hybridity”, the suitcase has become the signifier of mobility, displacement, duality and the overwrought emotional climates in which these circulate.’

Wrap Liberation developed from two earlier designs by Thorpe and Hunter, the ‘Vexed Bag’ and the ‘Shopper Bag’. The pieces were designed specifically for individuals who use two-wheeled transportation. As Thorpe and Hunter comment, ‘When we established Vexed Generation in 1994, we wanted to encourage more people to ride a motorbike or a bicycle as a way of reducing air pollution in London’. Thorpe and Hunter, who both ride scooters, developed the Vexed and Shopper bags in an attempt to improve the experience of two-wheeled transportation. The Vexed Bag formed part of their debut seven-piece collection in Autumn 1995. It is the first example of a one-arm rucksack and has been copied subsequently by many designer and high-street labels. The strap, which is designed to go across the torso, can be adjusted to suit the needs of the individual wearer. It also has a detachable mobile ‘phone pocket fixed to the strap with Velcro for easy accessibility. The main body of the bag is designed to sit perfectly straight on the back for added safety and manoeuvrability. Originally intended to carry records it is large enough to carry a laptop and other daily necessities. Made from Cordura laminated with polyurethane, the Vexed Bag is also waterproof. In a way, it can be read as a jacket that has been reduced to its ultimate form and function. As Thorpe and Hunter explain, ‘We began cutting away at a jacket to see what would be the minimum amount of fabric needed to support a large square box. We were left with a structure that developed into the Vexed Bag. In effect, the bag is a jacket in it most simplified form.’ The Shopper Bag developed out of the Vexed Bag and formed part of Vexed Generation’s Autumn/Winter 1998-1999 collection. As they explain, ‘We wanted to claim authorship of a design that had been coped by nearly every major player in the fashion business by creating a more advanced version.’ Like the Vexed Bag, the Shopper was designed for two-wheeled transportation. It enabled individuals to carry more personal effects while still retaining accessibility and manoeuvrability. Made from Cordura laminated with polyurethane, it also contained an air-flow padding for added comfort. Similar to Mandarina Duck’s Task Bag, the Shopper has pockets in its side panels for wearers to insert their hands. It’s a design detail that is intended to highlight its function as wearable luggage.” P. 38-45
“Adam Thorpe and Joe Hunter of Vexed Generation have researched the movement patterns of individuals who use both public and private means of transport. Their research has led them to develop a range of garments that rely on various innovative cutting techniques such as stretch seaming. One of Thorpe’s and Hunter’s first garments to use this technique was the ‘Jacket 3’, which formed part of their Autumn/Winter 1998-1999 ‘Crusader’ collection. As with so much of Vexed Generation’s work, the crusader collection was primarily inspired by two-wheeled transportation. The name originates from ‘Crusader 21’ the working title of a new military kit that the Ministry of Defence introduced into the army in 2000. Jacket 3 is basically a biker’s or cyclist’s jacket. The body of the garment is made from non-stretch Cordura laminated with a waterproof and breathable membrane that serves to protect the wearer. To enhance manoeuvrability as one leans forward to grip the handlebars of their motorbike or bicycle, stretch Cordura panels have been placed across the shoulder blades and down the sides of the jacket.

The idea was developed further in the ‘Stretch Seam Jacket’, which formed part of Vexed Generation’s Autumn/Winter 2000-2001 collection. Like the Jacket 3, the Stretch Seam Jacket was made from non-stretch Cordura with stretch Cordura panels across the shoulder blades and down the sides of the jacket. But unlike the Jacket 3, the Stretch Seam Jacket was not designed specifically for two-wheeled transportation. Thorpe and Hunter explain that, ‘The jacket was designed to ease the stress that we place on our clothes in our everyday lives. Constant sitting down, standing up and moving around puts a strain on the seams of the garments. We wanted to create a range of clothes that stretched with the body’s natural movements promoting both mobility and flexibility.’ The technique of stretch seaming was developed further in the ‘Techtonic Jacket’, which formed part of a subsidiary collection to Vexed Generation’s Autumn/Winter 2000-2001 collection. Plate tectonics is the study of the continental plates which move over the Earth’s surface. Using tectonics as an analogy, Vexed Generation studied the placement and movement of plates or panels over the body’s surface. For protection, the body of the Techtonic Jacket is made from ballistic nylon. Stretch Cordura seams are positioned to allow comfortable movement within a close-fitting rigid outer shell. The overlapping plates ensure that rain runs off the garment as well as giving an angular silhouette.

Another technique used by Thorpe and Hunter to facilitate bodily movement within space and society is that of pleating. The ‘J 96 Jacket’ was the first garment in which pleating was used to promote increased mobility. It formed part of Vexed Generation’s debut Autumn/Winter 1995-1995 collection. The jacket is made from denim that has been treated with Teflon, a technique developed by Thorpe and Hunter to provide water and stain resistance. ‘Vexed Denim’, as it is known, offers the durability of denim without the saturation tendencies of 100 per cent cotton. The back of the J 96 Jacket has two vertical pleats, which run down from the shoulder blades. It was an idea that was first developed further in the ‘Box Pleat Jacket’ and the ‘Fan Pleat Jacket’ from Vexed Generation’s Autumn/Winter 2000-2001 collection. Also made from Vexed Denim, the Box Pleat Jacket offers greater manoeuvrability than the J 96 Jacket by increasing the number and location of pleats. For increased mobility, pleats have been incorporated into the arms, the chest and the back of the jacket. The pleats expand, allowing the garment to fit closer to the body without sacrificing either comfort or range of motion. A snug fit was one of the specifications of the Fan Pleat Jacket, made form CFX nylon lined with Outlast Phase Change Material. CFX nylon is a high tenacity nylon that is similar to ballistics nylon, but has a looser weave, which makes it lighter and more flexible. The Fan Pleat Jacket concentrates on the arms for increased comfort and freedom of movement. Again the pleats are expandable, but as well as being functional they are also highly decorative. As Thorpe and Hunter explain, ‘With the Fan Pleat Jacket, we wanted to move slightly away from the utilitarian look of the J 96 Jacket and Box Pleat Jacket. Of course, the Fan Pleat is still extremely practical, but it is also a beautifully sculpted garment –glamour utility, if you like. Glamour clearly underlies the choice of colour, a shimmering metallic silver. Indeed, the full beauty of the garment can only be appreciated in motion, with each fan pleat expanding and contracting to create an ever-changing silhouette. It recalls the dynamism of Futurist clothing and the structural intelligence of Vionnet. Ultimately, though, it is Thorpe’s and Hunter’s ability to create practical garments for a nomadic urban lifestyle that dictates their clothing aesthetic. Their garments may include beautiful styling, but it is always delivered in a package that allows for ever greater comfort and freedom of movement. P. 38-55.
“As befitting the warfare or combative metaphor of the contemporary city, many designers of supermodern clothing borrow certain physical characteristics of military dress in order to provide individuals with successful defensive ‘urban armour’. For instance, Adam Thorpe and Joe Hunter of Vexed Generation have used ballistics nylon in both the ‘Vexed Parka’ and the ‘Techtonic Jacket’. Ballistics nylon was the first material in widespread use for high-energy impact or projectile protection. In the military, it is used for protection against bullets and fragments emanating from an explosive. Although it is strong and stiff, it allows more freedom of movement that a rigid form. Ballistics nylon also has the added advantage of being inconspicuous. Susan M. Watkins points out that, ‘A political figure can wear “bullet-proof” undergarments at all times in public appearances without appearing unduly nervous. An undercover policeman can wear a fitted ballistics undershirt under a regular uniform or don a trench coat with a ballistics liner without significant change in apparent body size or shape or difficulty in movement.’ The forms of military and police body armour influenced the design of the Vexed Parka and Techtonic Jacket produced by Thorpe and Hunter. In fact, given the way these garments flaunt their ‘undercover’ detailing, they might be considered a radical take on ‘underwear as outerwear’. Although the jackets consist of too few layers of ballistics nylon to be truly ‘bullet-proof’ look for the wearer. As Thorpe and Hunter explain, ‘It would be difficult to make a “fashionable” jacket that was 100 per cent bullet-proof. Not only would it be extremely difficult to machine sew, but it would also be uncomfortable to wear in an everyday urban context.’ Nevertheless, the two jackets are slash-proof. And should an individual require additional protection, Thorpe and Hunter have designed detachable linings from Kevlar fleece to fit inside many of their jackets. Kevlar, a registered trademark owned by the DuPont Company, is another material with the characteristics of strength and stiffness. In recent years , Kevlar is the material most frequently used in the military for ballistics protection.” P. 76.
“Similarly, for their Autumn/Winter 2001-2002 collection, Adam Thorpe and Joe Hunter of Vexed Generation have created a range of clothes with hidden pockets. Entitled ‘See And Be Seen’ (SABS), the garments provide ‘stealth storage’ for mobile phones, Discmans, Mini-Discs, Walkmans, MP3 Players and a range of other electrical equipment. Ultimately, labels like Mandarina Duck and Vexed Generation aim to produce clothes that represent ‘stealth wealth’. That is to say, clothes that hide an individual’s valuable possessions.

Vexed Generation’s SABS collection is also intended to help prevent accidents by enhancing the visibility of individuals on busy city roads. Thorpe and Hunter explain that, ‘The See And Be Seen collection was designed specifically for “street performance”. We wanted to create a range of clothes that would increase the safety of bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians as they negotiate city traffic.

Unsurprisingly, poor visibility is the cause of more road accidents that any other factor. Consequently, many motorcyclists and bicyclists have taken to wearing fluorescent strips across their chests. In their SABS collection, Thorpe and Hunter have taken this form of protection a step further by incorporating high-visibility reflective panels into their garments. Aware that such protection is not always essential, Thorpe and Hunter have designed the garments so that the reflective panels can be zipped away when not needed. The SABS collection also contains a number of other features which help to improve the safety of individuals in busy city roads. Like so many collections produced by Vexed Generation, garments in the range possess reinforcement patches on the elbows and knees for extra protection in the event of an accident. In this respect, the garments fulfil the same function as the basic battledress uniform worn by the infantry soldier. Several jackets in the SABS collection also include a unique hood construction that ensures full facial coverage without loosing peripheral vision via a tinted ‘vision strip’. Such a detail is particularly effective for motorcyclists and bicyclists who require full peripheral vision for certain road manoeuvres like changing lanes and turning corners.” P. 77-81

“The hooded garments designed by Adam Thorpe and Joe Hunter of Vexed Generation are particularly worth mentioning for their ability to empower their wearers. When fully zipped, the Vexed Parka takes on an other-worldly, insectoid appearance that can serve to intimidate as well as dominate. A similar effect is achieved with the ‘Ninja Fleece’, one of the five items of clothing that formed part of Vexed Generation’s debut Autumn/Winter 1995-1996 collection. In fact, many outerwear garments produced by Thorpe and Hunter, such as the ‘Liner Jacket’ from their Autumn/Winter 1997-98 collection and the ‘Zip Spiral Balaneck’ form their Autumn/Winter 1999-2000 collection feature high collars or hoods that aggrandise their wearers.” P. 86

“Indeed, Thorpe and Hunter designed their ‘Shark Coat’ as a response to the Crime and Disorder Act (1998) which, among other things, rendered it illegal to cover one’s face in a political protest. The erosion of civil liberties is a major concern of Thorpe and Hunter and has often precipitated the creation of many hooded garments. They are often quoted as saying, ‘You put up a surveillance camera – I’ll put up a collar.’ In this context, collars and hoods act as a form of resistance.” P. 86-87
“Adam Thorpe and Joe Hunter of Vexed Generation are typical of many designers of supermodern clothing in their use of dark colours, particularly in their Autumn/Winter collections. As mentioned in chapter one, one of their concerns is with bridging the gap between uniform wearers and non-uniform wearers. One of their strategies is the appropriation of certain physical and symbolic elements of uniforms, principally those worn by the police. It is possible, therefore, to interpret their use of dark colours as another means of closing the actual and psychological distance between police and civilians.

Thorpe and Hunter have also commandeered various fabrics of police uniforms, such as ballistics nylon and Kevlar. These still, hard-surfaced materials offer individuals another form of camouflage in urban centres by creating geometric forms that echo those found in transitional spaces. Fabrics like ballistics nylon and Kevlar add to the apparent size of the body, giving us an increased sense of power, a sense of extension of our bodily self. It is an effect that depends upon an illusion known to psychologists as ‘confluence’. As Flügel observes, ‘In this illusion, the mind fails to distinguish two things which under other circumstances are easily kept apart, and attributes to A what really belongs to B, so that A appears to undergo an increase.’ Thus, the extension of the body provided by ballistics nylon and Kevlar, is unconsciously attributed to the body that wears them. Like many designers of supermodern clothing, Thorpe and Hunter prefer plain, undecorated materials. This does not mean that their clothing lacks detail. Their work often incorporates visible stitching, padding and quilting. In some clothes, the form of the padding has been directly inspired by the design of particular vehicles. This is perhaps most clearly seen in the ‘Vexed Parka’, where the padding around the spine and kidney areas was based on the wheel guards of Vespa scooters.” P.99-102

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