Fashion-forward bulletproof clothing company opens in Eindhoven

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No image availableNL Times

Walk quickly past the window of the new Miguel Caballero showroom in Eindhoven’s Witte Dame building and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a storefront for chic Spanish sportswear. But look closer and see that the two sveltely clad mannequins are standing on bullet shells and bandoliers. That’s because the company behind the display is Panamera Group, a distributor of the Colombian bulletproof clothing manufacturer Miguel Caballero, whose first European showroom opened on Sunday in the Netherlands’ fifth-largest city. “People come from all of Europe. And in the last two weeks, we have had lot of orders from Belgium and France, after the attacks there,” Panamera CEO Yavuz Yilmaz told NL Times. “It’s incredible. We are selling a couple hundred items every week.”

Items include vests, jackets and shirts in ballistic protection levels II through IV. A level-III undershirt, offering resistance to a Kalashnikov, costs 2,400 euros, which is at the low end of Panamera’s price range. A jacket could cost between 3,000 and 4,000 euros, depending on whether its outer shell is made of leather or a less expensive material. Light-weight design and sleek cuts are what drive the apparel’s prices up, explained Yilmaz. “The clothes that are sold are really high-fashion. You cannot tell this is bulletproof,” he said, adding that standard bulletproof vests weigh three or four kilos. Dutch politicians are among Yilmaz’s high-profile clients, though he refused to share names. Yet Panamera is clearly invested in making wearable armor available to everyday people, as Dutch daily AD pointed out, from the vulnerable gas station attendant to a jittery jeweler. Yilmaz invites prospective clients to make an appointment at the Panamera showroom or ask for his staff to come to them for some discrete, as it were, fashion advice. Meanwhile, he acknowledges the difficulty in preventing current or would-be criminals from purchasing the products. “It’s not possible to do a background check [on clients], but the only thing we can do is [maintain the policy that] you cannot pay cash,” he said. Panamera, which officially began operating in Eindhoven on January 1, expects a total of 20 new showrooms across Europe by yearend. Openings in Belgium, France and Germany are already scheduled next month. All stock is imported from Colombia, where the line’s eponymous designer, Miguel Caballero, began the company in 1992. Expect more items to come to Europe, said Yilmaz, including children’s apparel.