Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Thousand Dollar Tank Top

"Several times I've shot my wife, I've shot my lawyer, my brothers, and I've shot myself." 

No, Miguel Caballero is not a murderer, he's a fashion designer. 

A native of Bogota, Colombia, Caballero has been producing fashion-oriented bulletproof clothing for world elites since 1992 when he founded his own company. The clothing ranges in style from tank tops, the biggest selling item, to rain coats and suit jackets. At only 7 millimeters in thickness, the bulletproof tank top can withstand twelve bullets, six in the back and six in the front. Jackets and thicker vests can withstand more powerful firearms.

Though this concept may seem far-fetched and questionably unnecessary, Caballero's clothing has become an asset to many world figures. According to the New Yorker, these designs are created for those: "who have security concerns but don’t want to dress like members of a SWAT team." The presidents of Kenya, Nigeria, El Salvador, Paraguay, Panama, Guatemala, and Uruguay consistently use Caballero's designs. Also on the list of VIPs are Michael Bloomberg, Steven Seagal, and King Fernando of Spain. It has even been suspected that President Obama wore Miguel Caballero designs for the 2009 inauguration. 

From the leaders of the free world to the Colombian National Military, Caballero designs are gaining popularity and utility. According to CNN, Caballero's designs are also certified by the National Institute of Justice, meaning that U.S. government has essentially attested to their effectiveness. 

Caballero's designs were inspired by his childhood friend, the daughter of a well-known politician. She was often accompanied by body guards. Caballero noticed that the guards would neglect to wear their bulletproof vests because they were heavy, ugly, and difficult to move in. Following a basic thread of creativity, Caballero saw a problem and imagined an inventive solution. The goal became to create clothes that appeared fashionable but served the function of providing safety to the wearer. The Miguel Caballero team actually invented its own lighter bulletproof material by the late 90's to better accomplish the company's goal. 

Miguel Caballero products now sell for a minimum (tank top) of around $1,500. Though these products are obviously not targeted toward regular civilians, their popularity continues to grow, with sales doubling annually in recent years. In the contemporary world of gun violence and acts of terror, safety and style may be more often forced into the same realm. 


  1. As you mentioned, during former President Obama’s inauguration, he wore “bullet-resistant clothing” according to media outlets. Now, I am also wondering if that body armor was actually a custom made bulletproof suit by Caballero. Perhaps it is prohibited to release sale information regarding certain clients.

    I like this product because of how discrete it is. For me, the importance doesn’t necessarily focus on fashion or comfort. It seems that if someone didn’t know their target was wearing this protective clothing, and shot at them, this might mess them up enough to deter them. At the very least, it would give time for the victim (and possibly their security detail, if they have one) to react and save a life.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is actually an interesting topic that tackles some problems faced in the world today. I've talked to a former Chicago police officer about how sometimes, his partners would not wear their bulletproof vests because of the weight and difficulty to move in. I know that typically, police officers or even soldiers aren't looking to be stylish out in the field, but Caballero's take on bulletproof vests could be part of the move to make more efficient gear. Specifically, this could help maybe undercover agents or police officers in daily life (if it weren't for that price though) or at least lead to some change. This could also be used in a variety of other ways, like with lawyers who work with violent people, politicians, actors, etc. I wonder, though, how did rejection (I'm assuming he experienced failure at some point) help with his creative process? Obviously, this type of project is extremely hard to create and execute successfully, so it's amazing that he has done what he has already.

  3. This is really interesting, and something I had not been aware of before. The fact that bullet-proof clothing can even be this thin is amazing. However, something that strikes me is the target of elites. I imagine it must be expensive to create such a complex product, and I understand that it is important for individuals in power to be protected, but I also wonder how much impact such a product could have on the wider community if it were accessible, especially in the current climate of violence. Do you believe that this product will eventually be available to a wider public? And if not, what does that say about the value of life?


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