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Need Extra Room on the Subway? Try This Spiky 'Hedgehog' Dress

Youngsil Lee's garment raises a shield of skin-puncturing needles when its wearer feels threatened (or is just being a jerk).

Youngsil Lee

Swans and leopards, sure. But not many clothing designers are inspired by the homely hedgehog.

That's a shame, because when you think about it the spiky softball has many redeeming features for fashion. It's adorable, for one thing. It's reversible, going from “open” to “closed” in seconds. And as any mutt who tried to gobble one knows, hedgehogs have a natural self-defense system that's kryptonite for creatures who wish them harm.

So it's kind of wonderful that somebody made what's likely the first piece of hedgehog couture. (OK, maybe the second.) Designed by Youngsil Lee, the woven-leather and gold-flecked dress isn't just aggressively out there, making the wearer look like a character from "Mortal Kombat." It can be used as a personal-protection device, too, thanks to a thicket of Erinaceinae-inspired shoulder spines.

With business as usual, the needles lay flat against the wearer's body like the scales of a snake. But if she is feeling threatened – or is just being a jerk and wants to pop some kid's balloon – she can activate a trigger that raises the spikes into a skin-puncturing position. To reinforce the message that this is not a hedgehog to mess with, LEDs inside the spike chambers glow with menacing red light.

Fans of interactive clothing should appreciate the hedgehog dress' potential applications. Aside from deterring criminal activity, the garment would be helpful in getting a little extra breathing room in crowded elevators and subway cars. An overprotective father might purchase one for his daughter on prom night. Muggers and super-pushy pick-up artists will find it a breath of fresh air compared to pepper spray.

Here's what Youngsil Lee has to say about the dress, which is so hedgehoggy the wearer might as well turn nocturnal and live off a diet of insects:

 "汇(HUI)" is a interactive dress.

The meaning of “汇(HUI)" is a hedgehog from the Chinese character and hedgehog is visual metaphors of it.

It is wearable work. It express about fear and anxiety from relation of other people in visual.

(H/t to Fashioning Tech.)

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.