What starts off as a bargain... takes about 4 weeks to turn yukky.

I've washed both pairs of my new Kathmandu slacks on several occasions now. I've loved wearing them, they're comfortable, and good quality... But it's taken me till now to figure out what that stiff 'cardboard' feeling thing was in the bottom side of my pocket. I first thought it was the Kathmandu label but as I put up my washing this afternoon and compared my black and gray slacks as I pegged them onto the line, I soon realised that 'it' wasn't in the pocket, nor was it a label- but something else in that extra sew-on attachment.

What gave it away? 

The black pants had a black extra sew-on attachment, while the gray pants had a white sew-on attachment and as the sun beamed I turned the clothes inside out.  The light of the sun revealed something else through the white fabric! And in the end had it not been for that, I would have been completely oblivious to the embedded tag.

Click through to see the discovery as it happened...

I have to say it is the first time that I've come across an item I've bought whose manufacturer has gone to such extraordinary lengths to embed a tag into the clothing. At first I thought, yeah, a lot of thieves would frequent Kathmandu for the quality clothing, and then when I came to my senses I realised this was not about theft or loss prevention but about consumer tracking!

Having recently re-opened Katherine Albrecht's and Liz McIntyre's Spychips bestseller, I soon put one and one together (see e.g. the Benetton and Gillette campaign)... this tag would potentially be used to understand repeat clientele back into Kathmandu retail stores!

shook my head stunned, thinking this was not right... I went to fetch my camera and scissors to cut open the sew-on attachment... and there, to my amazement, was the tag in full view. If that was not enough, the tag was stuck onto the fabric. I was reminded of a short 2 minute clip I had shown my students in IACT905 IT & Innovation @ UOW of Will Smith in the famous scene of Enemy of the State... tags in shoes, watches, pants, smart phone, you name it!

Enemy of the State (1998). Scene taken 57 min into film. 

Enemy of the State (1998). Scene taken 57 min into film. 

What have we become?! Tracking spychips... in slacks... chips in slacks...! How utterly abhorrent! I thought about my kids wearing Kathmandu as well- those tags must go! Check your clothes and cut the attachments off!

The last gallery image depicts me quite disturbed at this discovery... I added my face to my pants symbolically, using my new Samsung Galaxy 4 Android device! There are several reasons for this- but for the greater part, the tag in my slacks is linked to me forever because my name is now linked to those pants, as is my face, and my transaction history.

I wonder how soon all of this will sync up with the "anonymous" tracking of consumers at shopping malls! It seems only a matter of time that there will be a truly integrated effort to bring together CCTV, smartphones and RFID chips! 

The elevator scene in Enemy of the State (1998) between Will Smith and Gene Hackman.

The elevator scene in Enemy of the State (1998) between Will Smith and Gene Hackman.

The elevator scene in Enemy of the State (1998) between Will Smith and Gene Hackman.

The elevator scene in Enemy of the State (1998) between Will Smith and Gene Hackman.

The elevator scene in Enemy of the State (1998) between Will Smith and Gene Hackman.

The elevator scene in Enemy of the State (1998) between Will Smith and Gene Hackman.