Small Virginia Retailer Corners the Market on Fashionable Bulletproof Suits
Bullet proof armor is life saving, incredibly important to security forces of any kind, but usually quite ugly, bulky, and heavy. A smaller men's suiting retailer in Virginia decided to take it upon themselves to great bullet proof suits worthy of James Bond.
Bulletproof armor is life saving and incredibly important to security forces of any kind, but usually quite ugly, bulky, and heavy. Even bulletproof vests that can be worn under clothing are a bit clunky and weighty. A smaller men's suiting retailer in Virginia decided to take it upon themselves to make bulletproof suits worthy of James Bond.
Aspetto: I [Abbas] started a clothing company freshman year of college. It was dress shirts, suits. The company was starting to grow a little. I had an international marketing class. The idea was to take a product from the U.S. to overseas. We wanted to take something to the Middle East. We were thinking of bombs, bullets, things blowing up. We think we can integrate armor into the suits. There was a local company, Renegade Armor. They said one of the [federal] agencies about a year ago was requesting bulletproof suits, but they couldn't do it, because they didn't know anything about suits. Before we could present our product to the class, we were talking to one of the agencies.
The Wire: So you were already in the suiting business. How did that affect your bulletproof designs?
Aspetto: Everything we do here is custom. That really impacts how well the bulletproof suits fit, and how well they work. Custom is "better," because it'll be a product used specifically. With our regular suits, not bulletproof, you can see a gentleman walking down the street and see the suit is custom. It's just for him, it fits right. When you add the bulletproof side of it, it not only has that look, but it has a functionality. Each panel is designed to cover them, if they have a broader chest or narrower waist. That way, it fits more appropriately and better.
The Wire: Do you make any non-custom suits?
Aspetto: We are starting to do work for overseas governments, which won't be custom. One of the agencies in the U.S. wanted to find out if we can do standard, but custom is better.
The Wire: What's the design process like for the bulletproof suits?
Aspetto: A lot of research and development went into slimming down these suits and making them covert. It makes them not appear to be bulky, not look the way you would think. The ballistic material within the suit is not only thin, but also lighter weight. We don't necessarily want the heavier product because we wanted it to be comfortable when worn. On average, our bullet resistant suits weigh 6 to 7 pounds, give or take on the size of the person. A regular suit weighs roughly 3 pounds. The fit is determined by our patent-pending technology.
The Wire: What are some of your most popular products?
Aspetto: We are starting to get into tactical gear, what you see military and police wearing. That's always going to be needed. One of the popular things we do is an undershirt, you wear it under a dress shirt. Bullet resistance, bomb frag resistance and fire retardant, and there's a concealed carry pocket.
The Wire: Any weird product requests?
Aspetto: We made a bulletproof kids' backpack. It was pink. It was right after the Newtown shooting. We had a lot of inquiries about the protection of kids. The backpack was the most common solution for that. It was really sad.
The Wire: How are your prices?
Aspetto: Depending on the level of protection, it'll be between $3,500 to $5,000. A non-bulletproof suit, made with an average fabric, it would be around $600-$1000.
The Wire: How do you determine your fabric and materials are bulletproof?
Aspetto: We try to stick with 100 percent wool for the exterior. One of the big things is we want to make sure when you're wearing bullet resistance, it'll be robust, but also professional. So it'll look nice. That is one of the considerations we have with the external fabric.
As for the bullet proof material, we go through the National Institute of Justice. It has a certification to approve ballistics. When we have our bullet resistant packages, they can be certified to stop a certain point of threat levels. We gather our bullet resistant materials from our partner. They provide us with materials only certified by NIJ. Level 3a; that is what we handle, that's the highest in soft armor. Level 3a will stop any handgun or shotgun. Most local law enforcements wear Level 2a, so we are a step above that.
A lot of things can stop a bullet, but it's also what happens after the bullet stops. We call it back face. So it's not just stopping the bullet, it's making sure nothing is ruptured after, that the heart isn't affected. That's what our materials can do, that's what they are certified to do.
The Wire: There's a company in Colombia that also makes bulletproof clothing. The owner insists on shooting his employees (and himself) in the clothes before he sells them. Do you guys do that?
Aspetto: The way we see it — and why neither of us have gotten shot — we see that as reckless. If we are going to be working with government agencies, go into their shoes. If this person is shooting himself, or his employee, yes, he is confident in his product, but is that something we want to be a part of? We don't see it as necessary because we have ballistics that have gone through the testing, that will stop threat levels. We don't care to partake in an idea of that sort. We do put our suits on a mannequin and shoot at them.
The Wire: What happens after you get shot in a suit?
Aspetto: If you got shot once, you should get a new suit after you've been shot. You can take multiple shots, but still, it's dangerous. We have put 18-to-20 rounds in a suit when we tested a suit.
The Wire: You must get a lot of crazy people calling you.
Aspetto: We have had sketchy phone calls. We do tell the customers that we do background checks. That's for our liability. We try to stick with mostly law enforcement and federal agents. The idea was to protect the people that protect us. We don't want our product ending up in the wrong hands.
The Wire: So do you actually make federal agents look cool under cover?
Aspetto: We do have government contracts, and our suits are definitely really cool. We can't speak about which agencies we work with though.
You can watch Aspetto suits get shot here:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
Three families of fallen servicemembers received next-day UPS letters from President Trump after a turbulent week in which Trump falsely claimed he had called “virtually all” of the families.
The Trump administration is scrambling to defend the president’s characterization of his communications with grieving military families, including rush-delivering letters from the president to the families of servicemembers killed months ago. Donald Trump falsely claimed this week that he had called “virtually” all fallen servicemembers’ families since his time in office.
Timothy Eckels Sr. hadn’t heard anything from President Trump since his son Timothy Eckels Jr. was killed after a collision involving the USS John S. McCain on August 21. But then, on October 20, two days into the controversy over the president’s handling of a condolence call with an American soldier’s widow, Eckels Sr. received a United Parcel Service package dated October 18 with a letter from the White House.
Emma Perrier was deceived by an older man on the internet—a hoax that turned into an unbelievable love story.
Emma Perrier spent the summer of 2015 mending a broken heart, after a recent breakup. By September, the restaurant manager had grown tired of watching The Notebook alone in her apartment in Twickenham, a leafy suburb southwest of London, and decided it was time to get back out there. Despite the horror stories she’d heard about online dating, Emma, 33, downloaded a matchmaking app called Zoosk. The second “o” in the Zoosk logo looks like a diamond engagement ring, which suggested that its 38 million members were seeking more than the one-night stands offered by apps like Tinder.
She snapped the three selfies the app required to “verify her identity.” Emma, who is from a volcanic city near the French Alps, not far from the source of Perrier mineral water, is petite, and brunette. She found it difficult to meet men, especially as she avoided pubs and nightclubs, and worked such long hours at a coffee shop in the city’s financial district that she met only stockbrokers, who were mostly looking for cappuccinos, not love.
Monday afternoon, President Trump delivered a press conference from an alternative reality, or perhaps a slightly-less-dark timeline. His relationship with Mitch McConnell is great! They have the votes for Obamacare repeal! The hurricane relief effort in Puerto Rico is a smashing success! Democrats are to blame for GOP divisions on Capitol Hill! These claims range from the highly dubious to the patently false.
A stunning new speculative-fiction book by Naomi Alderman couldn’t be more timely.
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A neuroscientist on how we came to be aware of ourselves.
Ever since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, evolution has been the grand unifying theory of biology. Yet one of our most important biological traits, consciousness, is rarely studied in the context of evolution. Theories of consciousness come from religion, from philosophy, from cognitive science, but not so much from evolutionary biology. Maybe that’s why so few theories have been able to tackle basic questions such as: What is the adaptive value of consciousness? When did it evolve and what animals have it?
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More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.
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Honoring the sacrifice of servicemembers requires understanding why they were put at risk, and demanding that those who did so hold themselves to account.
On Thursday morning, I planned to write a pointed screed decrying President Trump’s propensity to view the military community as a problem he can buy off with a check. Then, on Thursday afternoon, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, himself a Gold Star father, decried the noxious politicization of the deaths of servicemembers and how we treat their families in the aftermath. His remarks gave me pause, as they were meant to.
“Let’s not let this maybe last thing that’s held sacred in our society, a young man, young woman, going out and giving his or her life for our country, let’s … keep that sacred” he implored, lamenting the ugly and voyeuristic events of the past week.
Who better to set the protocol and define the limits of this sacred space than a father who lost his son in Afghanistan? Unless you’ve walked in his shoes, don’t ask questions.
In Season 2, the terrific NBC sitcom continues to explore ethics without sacrificing complexity or humor.
Last month, the NBC sitcom The Good Place returned for its second year after a first season that was widely praised as “surreal and high-concept” and “ambitious and uniquely satisfying.” In the two-part pilot, the show introduced a woman named Eleanor (Kristen Bell) who dies and finds herself in a non-denominational heaven by mistake—and who decides to learn how to become a better person in order to earnher spot in the afterlife. With that premise, The Good Place revealed what would eventually become the show’s most important theme: ethics. To avoid being sent to The Bad Place, Eleanor enlists her assigned “soul mate,” a former professor of moral philosophy named Chidi (William Jackson Harper), to teach her how to change her selfish ways.
DeepMind’s new self-taught Go-playing program is making moves that other players describe as “alien” and “from an alternate dimension.”
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Little did they know that the match—now remembered by Go historians as the “blood-vomiting game”—would last for several grueling days. Or that it would lead to a grisly end.
Early on, the young Akaboshi took a lead. But then, according to lore, “ghosts” appeared and showed Honinbo three crucial moves. His comeback was so overwhelming that, as the story goes, his junior opponent keeled over and began coughing up blood. Weeks later, Akaboshi was found dead. Historians have speculated that he might have had an undiagnosed respiratory disease.
Rumors are swirling over what took place in the final hours before four U.S. servicemen died—but a clear picture of what actually took place is only beginning to emerge.
On October 4, a small group of U.S. troops were preparing to leave a meeting with community leaders near the small town of Tongo Tongo in Niger. They were close to the Malian border, traveling in unarmored pick-up trucks with limited weaponry and a few dozen of their Nigerien counterparts. Then they were ambushed.
By the time the more than 30-minute assault was over, three U.S. troops were confirmed dead and two more were gravely injured. Another, Sergeant La David Johnson, was missing and his body would not be recovered for another two days. French aircraft, called in for back-up, circled overhead as fire was exchanged below. They later helped to evacuate survivors.
This account, based on public statements from the Trump administration, interviews with U.S. Africa Command officials; former State Department and intelligence officials; and the man who almost served as the senior director for Africa on the National Security Council, along with additional reporting from other news outlets like CNN and The Washington Post, suggests a direct link between the fatal ambush and the absence of a clear strategy or perhaps even a cursory understanding of U.S. operations in Africa by the Trump administration.