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.
Outrage over the vice president's approach to marriage reveals how deeply gender divides American culture.
The Washington Post ran a profile of Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, on Wednesday. The piece talks about the closeness of the Pences’ relationship, and cites something Pence told The Hill in 2002: Unless his wife is there, he never eats alone with another woman or attends an event where alcohol is being served. (It’s unclear whether, 15 years later, this remains Pence’s practice.) It’s not in the Post piece, but here’s the original quote from 2002: “‘If there's alcohol being served and people are being loose, I want to have the best-looking brunette in the room standing next to me,’ Pence said.”
Some folks—mostly journalists and entertainers on Twitter—have reacted with surprise, anger, and sarcasm to the Pence family rule. Socially liberal or non-religious people may see Pence’s practice as misogynistic or bizarre. For a lot of conservative religious people, though, this set-up probably sounds normal, or even wise. The dust-up shows how radically notions of gender divide American culture.
Under the right circumstances, choosing to spend time alone can be a huge psychological boon.
In the ’80s, the Italian journalist and author Tiziano Terzani, after many years of reporting across Asia, holed himself up in a cabin in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. “For a month I had no one to talk to except my dog Baoli,” he wrote in his travelogue A Fortune Teller Told Me. Terzani passed the time with books, observing nature, “listening to the winds in the trees, watching butterflies, enjoying silence.” For the first time in a long while he felt free from the incessant anxieties of daily life: “At last I had time to have time.”
But Terzani’s embrace of seclusion was relatively unusual: Humans have long stigmatized solitude. It has been considered an inconvenience, something to avoid, a punishment, a realm of loners. Science has often aligned it with negative outcomes. Freud, who linked solitude with anxiety, noted that, “in children the first phobias relating to situations are those of darkness and solitude.” John Cacioppo, a modern social neuroscientist who has extensively studied loneliness—what he calls “chronic perceived isolation”—contends that, beyond damaging our thinking powers, isolation can even harm our physical health. But increasingly scientists are approaching solitude as something that, when pursued by choice, can prove therapeutic.
Republican voters elected legislators on the basis of their refusal to compromise and a president who promised to cut deals. It’s no wonder they’re having trouble governing.
Do populist Republicans want a federal government where politicians stand on principle and refuse to compromise? Or do they want a pragmatist to make fabulous deals?
The intra-Republican conflict highlighted by last week’s failure to repeal or replace Obamacare is usefully understood as a consequence of confusion on those questions. Elected officials associated with the Tea Party, or the House Freedom Caucus, believe that they were sent to Washington, D.C., to replace sell-outs who compromised themselves by seeking earmarks for their constituents, buckling to establishment whips, or horse-trading with the Democrats.
Yet many populist entertainers, like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who fancied themselves champions of the Tea Party’s no-compromise ethos, morphed, during Election 2016, into cheerleaders for a different kind of populist—Donald Trump—who pointedly declared that he was seeking the nomination of the Republican Party, not the conservative party, and regularly boasted during the campaign that he should be elected in large part because of his prowess as a dealmaker. Forget principle—the art of the deal was the way to make America great again.
If Republicans want to confirm President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, they’ll likely have to change the rules and invoke the Senate’s “nuclear option.”
There’s an easy way and a hard way for the Senate to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and it appears Democrats are going to make Republicans do it the hard way.
That Gorsuch would ultimately take the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the high court has scarcely been in doubt in the weeks since President Trump nominated him 11 days after he took office. A well-regarded judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado, Gorsuch has a legal resumé tailor-made for the Supreme Court, he’s won nearly universal praise from conservatives, and he emerged from his confirmation hearings with his reputation largely intact.
The only question has been whether Gorsuch would win the eight Democratic votes necessary to reach 60 and defeat a filibuster, or whether Democratic resistance would force Republicans to change Senate rules, invoke what’s known in Washington as “the nuclear option,” and confirm Gorsuch with a simple majority of 51 votes. Statements of opposition haveflooded in from Democrats this week, making the answer clearer every day: Gorsuch is likely to fall short of 60 votes, and Republicans will have to jam his nomination through the Senate on their own.
The Trump administration may be accelerating "Easternization," argues Gideon Rachman.
Next week, Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to the United States to meet Donald Trump for the first time. But according to Gideon Rachman, the chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times, power is flowing in the opposite direction. Rachman is far from the first analyst to argue that China and other Asian nations are rising while the Western world declines, nor is he the first to cite the now-familiar statistics about China’s ballooning economy and unparalleled manufacturing might. His contribution is to help explain some of the most confounding developments of the day—from the Middle East’s descent into anarchy to the ascent of populist politicians in the West to the emergence of nostalgia as a political force—through his theory of the “Easternization” of international affairs.
On Thursday, the president appeared to suggest that members of the conservative hardline group in Congress should face primary challenges if they defy him.
Donald Trump is escalating his attacks on hardline conservatives in Congress in for a fight that could deepen the rifts within the Republican Party that already threaten to hobble the president’s agenda.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted: “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast.” He added: “We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!”
It is highly unusual for a president to publicly call for a fight against members of his own party. The president has not yet said he would support any primary challenges to members of the House Freedom Caucus in the upcoming midterm elections. But if nothing else, the incident signals that the so-called GOP “civil war” is far from over, even if Trump’s election did hand the Republican Party control of Congress and the White House.
The former hardline conservative congressman finds himself stymied by his former colleagues in the House.
Is it just me, or does Mick Mulvaney look a bit tense lately?
You could hardly blame the guy. The Great Republican Health Care Meltdown has been rough on the White House budget director, who was a central player in President Trump’s push to save the GOP’s floundering plan. But as the House vote approached, Mulvaney found himself increasingly at odds with a chunk of the conservative Freedom Caucus. Which is ironic, given that he co-founded the group and, until joining the administration, was a devout member.
While no one much liked the AHCA (How about that 17 percent approval rating!), Freedom Caucusers were particularly put off by what many considered “Obamacare lite.” The more they dug in, the huffier Trump got. He started calling out caucus members in closed meetings and through his pet negotiating tool, Twitter.
The president appears to be rooting for the Affordable Care Act to fail. Here’s a guide to determine whether he’s laying the groundwork.
With the president pulling the vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, both the media and health experts have correctly zeroed in what may be the crucial test for Trump and health care going forward: governing responsibly when it comes to the ACA or sabotage. If the president is seen as purposely seeking to destroy the ACA to try to make his claims come true, he will destroy the trust he needs for any chance at future bipartisan legislation.
Unfortunately, Trump’s initial comments after the failure of the Republican replacement bill gave the impression he was cheering for the ACA to fail and for Democrats to come back crawling to work with him. But the president cannot separate himself from health-care cost increases any more than he can separate himself from the economy. For good or ill, presidents tend to own both. And the least-effective way to bring Democrats to the table to help give the president a bipartisan legislative victory would be to give every impression that he is taking non-legislative and administrative actions to sabotage the ACA.
Just over a year after H.B. 2 passed, lawmakers and the governor have reached a deal, but progressive groups say the proposal is a sham.
DURHAM, N.C.—About a year ago, Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly hurriedly passed H.B. 2, a law that barred transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify, along with several other provisions. And almost ever since, the state has been trying and failing to find way to reverse it.
Late Wednesday, politicians in Raleigh announced they had struck a deal for the latest attempt, which appears to be the most politically viable effort yet. The bill has the support of the Republican leaders of the state house and senate along with Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, though whether it can actually pass in a vote scheduled for Thursday is not yet clear. It appears to be narrower than a repeal attempt that failed in December amid opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.