Suited For Combat

(FORTUNE Magazine) - Venezuelan boss Hugo Chavez already wears Miguel Caballero's bulletproof couture. Now the Colombian fashion designer has his sights set on a different tough-talking crowd: hip-hop artists.

Caballero's clothes--ranging from T-shirts to tuxedos--offer lightweight protection against the weapons that politicians and rap artists sometimes face. Well, lighter and less cumbersome than bulletproof vests made using Kevlar. His formal and casual suits, made of a fabric called Aramid, weigh only 2.6 pounds and start at $2,000. (In January he added a women's line featuring suede and leather jackets.) "Kevlar vests are so heavy, and they don't breathe," says Caballero, who has spent 13 years perfecting his line and who sold $3 million of bulletproof clothes last year.

Caballero hopes to launch his attack on the U.S. market in 2007, after forays into Mexico and Spain. Plans for a first store in Miami are already underway. Actors and musicians in the U.S. have begun to call, he says, but he won't reveal any names: "If their enemies know they're wearing one of our suits, they'll know where to aim." Top of page