Monday, October 3, 2011

Design by Caballero

Innovation and invention are fueled by demand (actual or anticipated).  The important thing about demand to remember, it doesn't always have a boundary.  Take bulletproof clothing - - you can actually buy bulletproof polo shirts, safari jackets, kurtas, and ecclesiastical investments.  We are seeing the intersection of technology, couture, and risk management in the context of globalization while at the golf course or the cocktail hour.

David Owen writes about this in the Dept. of Invention column in the New Yorker (Survival of the Fitted, September 26, 2011).  Owen covers Miguel Caballero - - he is founder and CEO of a Colombian based firm that specializes in "personal protection."  Consider the following points in the article - -
  • Popular items include a three-button blazer, a V-necked wool sweater, a Nehru vest, and a polo shirt.  The polo shirt actually "promotes a compact golf swing." 
  • The author was shot with a .38 calibre revolver while dressed in a black suede jacket.  Quality control is rather straightforward - - "After firing, Caballero lifted my shirt to check my abdomen for bruising and found none.  (One has to admire a good reporter and writer - - "After shooting me, Caballero took me to lunch.  The food was terrific.")
  • The customer base is concerned more about comfort and discretion than about cost (quality figures in somewhere also).
  • Caballero has a hybrid of nylon and polyester that is thinner, and more flexible than comparably protective versions of Kevlar.
  • The warranty is for five years - - ballistic materials and also guns improve.  We basically have a race between two innovative technologies.  Be sure and keep your warranty and remember your date.
  • Arabs prefer the MC Black Collection - - a white linen tunic (a tunic is good - - lots of room for bulletproof panels).
  • The classic "American wife beater" is very popular - - one can wear it with anything.  The "wife beater" and "urban hoodie" would make an excellent protective combination.
  • They also make a religious line - - for the Latin American priest caught between drug traffickers (it is also available with a large bulletproof Bible).  See - - true innovation really doesn't have pre-set barriers.
  • Underpants are problematic - - more pampers than Under Armour (but innovation will always fill the demand void).
  • This is very important to remember (and the first time I have heard about this issue) - - the type of protection and clothing is a function of geography.  London for example - - stab and knife protection are important.  India - - combination of both knife and gun.  Malaysia - - only knife.  Latin America - - think Uzi before Bowie.  Russia - - huge problems on this one.  They have something called a Tokarev round - - it is armour-piercing and you will require a special golf shirt in Russia.  The key point - - you might think that protecting people from stabbing would be easier than protecting them from shooting.  Wrong - - the surface area, as with an ice pick, is important.  So depending our your travel plans - - you might need several different types of golf shirts.
Innovation is a race - - more marathon than sprint.  Borders was in a race against Amazon.  Netflix chased Blockbuster down.  Everyone is trying to catch-up with Apple.  Bulletproof couture is just the latest in a very long run of races.  This one is just more basic and historic - - protection and killing.

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