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.
The president’s attempt to intimidate James Comey didn’t merely backfire—it may also embolden hostile regimes to conclude his other threats are equally empty.
This is a first for the Trump presidency: the first formal presidential retraction of a presidential untruth.
President Trump tweeted a warning to James Comey: The fired FBI director had better hope that no “tapes” existed that could contradict his account of what happened between the two men. Trump has now confessed that he had no basis for this warning. There were no such tapes, and the president knew it all along.
The tweet was intended to intimidate. It failed, spectacularly: Instead of silencing Comey, it set in motion the special counsel investigation that now haunts Donald Trump’s waking imagination.
But the failed intimidation does have important real world consequences.
First, it confirms America’s adversaries in their intensifying suspicion that the president’s tough words are hollow talk. The rulers of North Korea will remember the menacing April 4 statement from the Department of State that the United States had spoken enough about missile tests, implying that decisive actions lay ahead—and the lack of actions and deluge of further statements that actually followed.
Why Millennials aren’t buying cars or houses, and what that means for the economy
In 2009, Ford brought its new supermini, the Fiesta, over from Europe in a brave attempt to attract the attention of young Americans. It passed out 100 of the cars to influential bloggers for a free six-month test-drive, with just one condition: document your experience online, whether you love the Fiesta or hate it.
Young bloggers loved the car. Young drivers? Not so much. After a brief burst of excitement, in which Ford sold more than 90,000 units over 18 months, Fiesta sales plummeted. As of April 2012, they were down 30 percent from 2011.
Don’t blame Ford. The company is trying to solve a puzzle that’s bewildering every automaker in America: How do you sell cars to Millennials (a k a Generation Y)? The fact is, today’s young people simply don’t drive like their predecessors did. In 2010, adults between the ages of 21 and 34 bought just 27 percent of all new vehicles sold in America, down from the peak of 38 percent in 1985. Miles driven are down, too. Even the proportion of teenagers with a license fell, by 28 percent, between 1998 and 2008.
If the party cares about winning, it needs to learn how to appeal to the white working class.
The strategy was simple. A demographic wave—long-building, still-building—would carry the party to victory, and liberalism to generational advantage. The wave was inevitable, unstoppable. It would not crest for many years, and in the meantime, there would be losses—losses in the midterms and in special elections; in statehouses and in districts and counties and municipalities outside major cities. Losses in places and elections where the white vote was especially strong.
But the presidency could offset these losses. Every four years the wave would swell, receding again thereafter but coming back in the next presidential cycle, higher, higher. The strategy was simple. The presidency was everything.
Thirty minutes. That’s about how long it would take a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from North Korea to reach Los Angeles. With the powers in Pyongyang working doggedly toward making this possible—building an ICBM and shrinking a nuke to fit on it—analysts now predict that Kim Jong Un will have the capability before Donald Trump completes one four-year term.
About which the president has tweeted, simply, “It won’t happen!”
Though given to reckless oaths, Trump is not in this case saying anything that departs significantly from the past half century of futile American policy toward North Korea. Preventing the Kim dynasty from having a nuclear device was an American priority long before Pyongyang exploded its first nuke, in 2006, during the administration of George W. Bush. The Kim regime detonated four more while Barack Obama was in the White House. In the more than four decades since Richard Nixon held office, the U.S. has tried to control North Korea by issuing threats, conducting military exercises, ratcheting up diplomatic sanctions, leaning on China, and most recently, it seems likely, committing cybersabotage.
The former president issued a warning about the Republican plan to replace his signature health-care law. The Senate is planning to vote on it as early as next week.
On Thursday, Senate Republicans released a draft version of their Obamacare replacement, the American Health Care Act. The bill looks similar to the version passed by the House in May, and would accomplish much of the same: a large increase in the number of uninsured people and drastic cuts to the Medicaid program that is critical for poor people, pregnant women, children, and people with chronic health conditions.
In the aftermath of the release of that bill, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes will pass the Senate in the next two weeks, former President Barack Obama issued a rare full-throated post-presidential statement criticizing the AHCA and the political process by which it came to be. The statement, posted to Facebook, comes on the heels of another statement in March defending Obamacare, and is also one of the most thorough defenses of his signature policy, even dating back to his time in office.
At a farm in the east of the country, one couple tries to forge a nationalism for the intellectual set.
SCHNELLRODA, Germany—In the waning weeks of 2014, an astonishing right-wing fervor swept Germany. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, stirred by anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment, staged protests under the banner of the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, or Pegida. People streamed through the streets, waving German flags and chanting: “We are the people!” and “Resistance.”
That Pegida erupted in former East Germany, where a stubborn far-right scene persists to this day, was little surprise. But the make-up of these seething masses was far broader than the region had ever seen. Beyond the hardened core of right-wing extremists, there were thousands of “concerned citizens” and disillusioned Germans, fueled by frustration with the government’s immigration and economic policies.
Over time, leaders lose mental capacities—most notably for reading other people—that were essential to their rise.
If power were a prescription drug, it would come with a long list of known side effects. It can intoxicate. It can corrupt. It can even make Henry Kissinger believe that he’s sexually magnetic. But can it cause brain damage?
When various lawmakers lit into John Stumpf at a congressional hearing last fall, each seemed to find a fresh way to flay the now-former CEO of Wells Fargo for failing to stop some 5,000 employees from setting up phony accounts for customers. But it was Stumpf’s performance that stood out. Here was a man who had risen to the top of the world’s most valuable bank, yet he seemed utterly unable to read a room. Although he apologized, he didn’t appear chastened or remorseful. Nor did he seem defiant or smug or even insincere. He looked disoriented, like a jet-lagged space traveler just arrived from Planet Stumpf, where deference to him is a natural law and 5,000 a commendably small number. Even the most direct barbs—“You have got to be kidding me” (Sean Duffy of Wisconsin); “I can’t believe some of what I’m hearing here” (Gregory Meeks of New York)—failed to shake him awake.
The Senate bill coming out Thursday would do many things to health care in the U.S., but it won’t get rid of the Affordable Care Act, and Mitch McConnell won’t claim that it does.
The health-care bill Senate Republicans plan to unveil on Thursday likely will make substantial changes to Medicaid and cut taxes for wealthy Americans and businesses. It will eliminate mandates and relax regulations on insurance plans, and it will reduce the federal government’s role in health care.
What it won’t do, however, is actually repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Lost in the roiling debate over health care over the last several weeks is that Republicans have all but given up on their longstanding repeal-and-replace pledge. The slogan lives on in the rhetoric used by many GOP lawmakers and the Trump White House but not in the legislation the party is advancing. That was true when House Republicans passed the American Health Care Act last month, which rolled back key parts of Obamacare but was not a full repeal. And it is even more true of the bill the Senate has drafted in secret, which reportedly will stick closer to the underlying structure of the law.
The justices unanimously limited the federal government’s power to strip immigrants of their hard-won status.
The U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the scope under which the federal government can strip naturalized Americans of their citizenship on Thursday, ruling that false statements made during the naturalization process had to be relevant to gaining citizenship in order to justify revoking it later.
Justice Elena Kagan, writing for a unanimous Court in Maslenjuk v. United States, said that using small omissions or minor lies to denaturalize immigrants went beyond what Congress authorized. “The statute it passed, most naturally read, strips a person of citizenship not when she committed any illegal act during the naturalization process, but only when that act played some role in her naturalization,” she wrote.