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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Colombia's bullet-proof tailor
There may be few advantages to living in a country with an international reputation for violence, kidnapping and murder, but a Colombian tailor appears to have found one.

Alvaro Uribe
Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe is among Miguel Caballero's clients

Based in Bogota, Miguel Caballero's eponymous company constructs clothes which help protect the wearer against bullets, knives and other weapons.

As well as domestic customers such as Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, Mr Caballero has made good use of Colombia's notoriety to build up an international base - now boasting President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and the Prince of Spain as clients.

The selling point? "If this products functions in Colombia, you have the guarantee it will stop any type of bullet in any place in the world," the tailor told BBC World Service's Outlook Programme.

And the security conscious who also fear frumpiness need not worry. Mr Caballero's clothes, he declares, combine protection with panache.

Lighten up

Mr Caballero said that the idea came to him while still at university.

He was inspired when he saw the lack of protective clothing worn by the bodyguards of one of his fellow students.

"All the time, those guys did not use the best, because it was very uncomfortable and very heavy," he explained.

"They used leather jackets and suede jackets. I came up with a way to put the two characteristics together - security and fashion."

Miguel Caballero began by making bullet-proof leather and suede jackets, but the company has now expanded to other clothes, including raincoats, blazers, and other tops.

Colombian police
Colombians frequently find themselves in need of protection
Also available are protective shorts - specially designed underwear which protects against knife attacks to sell to prison wardens.

"After we designed this line, we made a T-shirt that stops the knife in the same way," Mr Caballero said.

He said that the clothes are designed for different people - VIPs, bodyguards, and those who wanted to dress safely but also casually.

The weight of a protective jacket has been brought down from 4.5 kilos 10 years ago to 1.2.

It can withstand ammunition from weapons including a 9mm, a .44 Magnum, and a 3.57 revolver.

The products are tested by the staff themselves, in what Mr Caballero - called "demonstrations." He has himself been shot at in three such tests.

"All the new employees have to take part in a real demonstration," he explained.

"You have to believe in our products."


SEE ALSO:
Rape 'a weapon in Colombia war'
13 Oct 04 |  Americas
Colombia's ghost towns
08 Jul 04 |  Americas
UN warns of huge Colombia crisis
05 Feb 04 |  Americas
The battle for Colombia's children
01 Oct 03 |  Americas
Colombia's most powerful rebels
19 Sep 03 |  Americas


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