Bullet-proof garments for kids

  • Education
  • Sunday, 20 Jan 2013

LAST month’s massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the United States (US), has only expedited the need for bullet-proof clothings.

Miguel Caballero who has been making bullet-proof clothes for politicians and other bigwigs for 20 years, has found that there is now a market for such attire among children, following the incident that left 20 children dead.

This year he plans a line for children — vests, T-shirts, and combination backpack-vests — all of which are geared toward the US market.

Caballero has made good profits from the business. His factory is on the outskirts of Columbia’s capital Bogota.

He sells around 50,000 garments a year that go for about US$2,000 (RM6,000) a piece, but the US market had been tough to crack.

Then, after a lone and deranged gunman killed 20 small children and six staff members at the US school last month, he started getting orders from worried parents.

“We would answer that we do not make clothes for kids. But the e-mails kept coming,” Caballero said.

So, in just a week, he designed garments and subjected them to ballistic tests.

Now, his factory is fitted to churn out a first lot of 1,800 bullet-proof garments for children and is waiting for confirmed orders.

Carolina Ballesteros, the factory’s director of research and development, said the impact of the Newtown shooting was huge.

This was because most of the victims were children aged between six and seven.

Ballesteros explained that the garments were not designed for everyday use, but for emergencies, to be handed out by teachers when the need arose.

The new line is tailored for children aged between eight and 16, with prices ranging from US$200 (RM600) to US$400 (RM1200), depending on the garment and its size.

Caballero’s factory employs 235 people, and 95% of its output is exported to 23 countries in the Middle East and Latin America.

The company makes uniforms for security forces and suits for public figures in many countries, said Ballesteros. — AFP

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