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Armored In Style

Miguel Caballero, the Armani of bulletproof clothing, makes fashionable bulletproof apparel for VIPs as well as standard ballistic vests for military and police personnel.

By Janet Bealer Rodie, Managing Editor

It's a dangerous world out there — especially if you're a world leader, undercover agent, celebrity living on the edge, reporter in a war zone, or even just a motorcyclist or hunting enthusiast. Not to mention the more typical occupations that can put a body in harm's way — soldier, police, prison guard, hazmat specialist and such. Numerous companies around the world make bulletproof and other protective apparel for the standard occupations, but there is one that stands out in the fashion world, making a range of duds from elegant evening dress and topcoats to casual attire and sporting and motorcycle wear, in addition to the standard gear.

Miguel Caballero became interested in making fashionable bulletproof clothing while still a university student studying business administration. A friend who needed special protection had complained about the heaviness and unattractiveness of the standard bulletproof vests worn by police and military personnel, and Caballero got the idea to make leather jackets with inserts of bulletproof material for VIPs who need ballistic protection but want it in a more fashionable and comfortable garment. He began working with some friends in the textile sector and after graduation started his business in Bogota, Colombia, in 1992 to make clothing — including both fashionable and standard bulletproof garments — that would protect politicians and security personnel in that civil war-torn country.

From those beginnings, he turned his attention outward toward the larger world, first toward Venezuela and eventually setting up distribution channels throughout South and Central America, Europe, Hong Kong, Qatar and elsewhere. Today, Caballero, known widely as the "Armani of bulletproof clothing," dresses political leaders and royalty, business tycoons, movie stars and others in the limelight who might be the target of a vengeful attacker. In 2002, he opened a corner in Harrods — London's premiere luxury department store — where customers may order a range of custom-tailored apparel. His first independent bulletproof boutique opened in 2007 off of Avenida Presidente Masaryk in Mexico City's premier shopping district.  

Ballistic
Action film star Steven Seagal (left) sports a bulletproof leather jacket, one of a number of ballistic garments he has ordered over the years from Miguel Caballero (right).

Custom-made lightweight polo shirts and tuxedo shirts — two garments featured in Caballero's top-of-the-line Black Label collection — offer one of three levels of ballistic protection using panels of a hybrid material developed by Caballero using aramid and nylon fiber. Jackets of the finest Italian leather, blazers, topcoats and other stylish attire — including women's fashions — containing inserts of Caballero's hybrid material offer the same levels of protection. The designs have been certified to National Institute of Justice specifications as well as those of other agencies in Latin America and Europe.

Caballero will reflect on his company's history and the future of the bulletproof clothing industry when he delivers the keynote address at this year's edition of Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas, to be held April 24-26 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

January/February 2012

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