Forget the stereotype of a quiet nerd who hacks from his mom’s basement. Today’s hackers are bolder, better and brighter than ever before–and they’ve got the cash to prove it. And thanks to the recent launch of a clothing line designed for hackers, techies can now make bold statements about who they are, wherever they are. Welcome to the revenge of the nerds.
It began as a small effort by Gregory D. Evans, CEO of LIGATT Security International, to introduce sassy, slogan-emblazoned T-shirts to the computer security community. With suggestions from customers, long sleeves, jackets and hats were added. Most recently, HackerGearOnline.com launched a fall line, which consists of long-sleeved shirts and new taglines, including “Hack or Be Hacked,” “I Love My PC,” and “Forget Rappers, I Date Nerds.”
The idea to create gear for those interested in IT security was conceived at a party, when Evans happened to talk to a famous hip-hop mogul who had previously launched his own clothing line. The duo began discussing how hip-hop is not about rap anymore, but more of a culture with the way people walk, talk, wear and how they wear it. When Evans was flying back to Los Angeles, he recalled the conversation with the music magnate, and something just clicked.
“I was thinking about what he was saying, and in the computer industry, it’s its own culture within itself, too,” he told The New New Internet. “If you look at hackers for instance . . . we have the funny hairstyles, we wear the different clothes, and we try to stand out. We don’t try to be like the norm. We are really the ‘wow’ type. A person can look at you and say, ‘he’s a nerd, he’s a geek, he’s this.’ I said what would be nice is if we could come out with something that when a nerd or a geek walks in a room, he or she can make a statement and be cool about it as well. We don’t really have to have that stigma of being that nerd that never got the girl.”
Evans conceptualized his idea, starting with a list of 25 shirts. Today, that number has grown to 200, excluding the upcoming winter collection. Available currently is the fall line, which includes weather-appropriate items, such as pants, jackets, coats and hats, as well as a women’s line and clothes for children.
A self-proclaimed hi-tech hustler (also the name of his 2005 memoir), Evans is well-entrenched in the entertainment and music industry, something that perpetuates throughout his stories–and the clothes he sells (remember the “Forget Rappers, I Date Nerds” shirt? There are more of those.) In addition to the FBI and other federal agencies, LIGATT’s clients include high-profile names from the entertainment biz–Jim Carrey and Ludacris, to mention a few, according to the company’s website.
“When I hang out around these guys, most of them know what I do because I protect their networks,” Evans said. “I protect the studios where they record their music and their laptops to make sure that if it’s stolen, we can track it, encrypt it and everything else. When I was [at a party], I wore one of my T-shirts–we have a shirt for no matter where you go. One of my shirts says, ‘F*ck Rap Money, I Make Tech Money!’ meaning, ‘forget [about] you rappers and how much money you have; I’m in the technology business and I make more money than you guys!’”
Evans said his “nerd shirt” not only made a statement, but it also helped him garner new opportunities.
“I stood out, so when I’m meeting new people there, trying to attract new business, they can read my shirt and understand,” he said. ” They loved it. They thought it was funny, but it made a statement. People knew that ‘hey, this person is in the room with us, but he doesn’t look like a computer nerd.’ This shirt says it all. I left there with some new business.”
And the shirts do say it all, everything from declaring the wearers’ love for all things tech, to proud statements about hacking Facebook, Twitter, etc. Currently, the most-popular item is the “Who Stole My F*cking Computer?” shirt, Evans said.
“The No. 1 seller since we started was ‘Your IT Manager Sucks,’” he added. “When I’m walking through an airport, and I’m wearing one of my shirts, people are looking because it stands out. Whenever you wear anything, it doesn’t have to be one of our shirts–anything that has words on the front, people try to look at it. They want to read about what it is. That’s what we do. When you walk into an airport and you have on a shirt that says, ‘My IT Manager Sucks,’ especially people who are frustrated with their IT department love it.”
To get the word out about his hacker gear, Evans has called on some friends in the entertainment industry to do photo shoots for some of the new lines.
“You’re going to see some big name hip-hop or mogul or some athlete wearing a geek shirt,” he promised, but could not reveal any names because of the ongoing negotiations.
While hacker gear traditionally does not extend beyond the T-shirt and jeans combo, Evans said he would characterize hacker fashion as new, funky and having a big ego.
[C]omputer people, especially technical people, when they speak to you, they don’t speak to you in layman terms,” he said. “They talk to you like they’re talking Chinese, like they’re Mr. Spock in the movie ‘Star Trek’–that’s how they talk to you. They have this aura about them like, ‘I’m smarter than you.’
Perhaps a little smug?
“Yes, they are very smug people,” Evans said. “Even when you were in school, that nerd that you sat next to in class who always got A’s–even though he never made the football team, the soccer team, the baseball team, and never got the girl– he was the smartest one in class. . . . When you wear one of our shirts, we’re like, ‘listen, I’m a techie and I’m cool.’ One of our T-shirts says, ‘Danger, Hacker in the Room.’ It just basically says when you walk in the room, I’m smarter than everybody else in this room. You may be richer. You may look better, but I’m smarter than the rest of you guys.”
One does not have to look farther than at the headlines featuring tech leaders to realize Evans is right. Being a nerd is not uncool anymore. With names such as foursquare’s Naveen Selvadurai, Spotify’s Daniel Ek and Chatroulette’s Andrey Ternovskiy achieving star status and the matching bank accounts, could this be the revenge of the nerds?
“It is truly the revenge of the nerds,” Evans said. “[Y]ou see these nerds that people used to make fun of, but they’re the richest people in the world. If you look at the richest people in the world, you will find real-estate moguls, investment bankers and you will find technology people. . . . I don’t care who LeBron James is, I don’t care who Dwayne Wade or Shaquille O’Neill is and how much money you are paying these people, these people cannot equal what our super nerds are making. They are not even a fraction of it. You should be happy. It is a new day out there. It is truly revenge of the nerds.”