[Image above] Credit: Betabrand

Whether you’re unphotogenic, camera-shy, or just prefer to stay “off the grid,” a new line of retro-reflective clothing might someday be your saving grace.

The glass-nanosphere-coated fabric used in Betabrand’s Flashback collection reflects the flash bulbs of the paparazzi, rendering the resulting photos worthless to the magazines and websites that purchase them. But it’s not just paparazzi that are being foiled by the flashy clothing—it also, according to the Betabrand website, upends would-be fun sponges, turning “ordinary iPhone images into thermonuclear photobombs.” 

(Requests for further details on the science behind Betabrand’s newest line were made, but details were fuzzy at best. I should note, however, that this isn’t the company’s first foray into high-tech fashion: In 2010, they made former MIT scientists’ Darpa Hoodie a runway reality. Read more about the shapeshifting sportswear here.)


Credit: Betabrand

DJ Chris Holmes came up with the idea for the line based on his experience on tour with Sir Paul McCartney.

After wearing reflective clothing to several performances, I noticed that photos from those shows always looked odd, because the flash that bounced off my clothing would obscure most everything else.


While I wasn’t thrilled that many of these photos were ruined, it gave me an epiphany: Perhaps I could use this technology for a greater purpose—like making paparazzi photos worthless.


That was the inspiration for my Flashback Collection, garments made from highly reflective material—perfect for anyone who doesn’t want his or her picture taken, or for photobombers who really want to make a lasting impression.




Credit: Betabrand

Silly—right? Maybe not.

Though most of us don’t have anyone tracking our daily activities with camera in hand, this same fabric is used in frocks with far more serious intentions, such as in the safety gear that protects first responders and firefighters, says the company. 

Holmes, too, thinks that the flashback fabric has deeper implications.

“Everybody documents every thing, all the time, and as a result, you’re photographed so often without your consent,” he says in a Betabrand video interview. “It’s a really good way to kind of limit that, but also have fun with it, allowing people to control when they want to be photographed and how they want to be photographed.

“Anything that can make people think twice about documenting every thing with your camera and kind of putting down the camera and just being in the moment is a good thing.”

If you’re being plagued by the paparazzi, or just want to have a little photobomb fun, you can pick up pieces from the collection, which is currently being crowdfunded on Betabrand’s site. Prices run from $49.30 for the Halo Hat to $406.30 for the Illuminati Suit Jacket.

For a little fashion-forward and reflective flashback reading, check out this post on a retro-reflective-coated bike that’s bright at night, and this one on ceramic-printed, carbon-fiber bikewear.