Known primarily for outfitting Bay Street power brokers and dressing the cast of Suits, local custom-tailoring house Garrison Bespoke recently designed the world’s first bulletproof three-piece suit. We took a closer look at the $20,000 danger-defying ensemble.
“A lot of the guys, especially in the banking sector, and in oil, gas, and mining, who travel to dangerous places, confessed that they feel really nervous,” says David Tran, 29, head of special projects at Bespoke. “So in their meetings, they weren’t 100 per cent focussed.” The notion of actually making the “ultimate James Bond suit” was initially just fun shop-talk amongst the Garrison staff, but it began to seem more plausible and logical as the concerns poured in. So far, they’ve got 16 people on a waiting list to get measured up.
STYLISH AND FUNCTIONAL
The suit needed to meet three main criteria: It had to create a strong impression, it had to be comfortable, and it had to be extremely discreet. (Nothing says “I don’t really trust you and this meeting is making me nervous” like wearing armour.)
The team began testing the prototype suit by putting it on a dummy and shooting at it with a .22 handgun. Then they advanced to the more powerful .40 and .45 calibre guns. Their efforts to determine the fabric’s stab-resistance, however, was conducted in the back of Garrison’s shop—with a live subject! Someone sporting a prototype was repeatedly knifed—and survived.
IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE THAT COUNTS
The bulletproof technology is made of carbon nanotubes sourced from the U.S Special Forces. The material is extremely flexible, 30 times stronger than steel, 50 per cent lighter than Kevlar, and resembles a small stack of business cards. The first layer prevents bullet penetration, the second disperses and absorbs the bullet’s kinetic energy, and the third prevents trauma to the body. “People think that if you wear this, it’s like the Iron Man suit and you can walk into a hail of bullets—that’s not what you want to do,” says Tran. “But it would out-perform a Kevlar vest, and it’s much more stab-resistant.”
Locating the material and having it delivered was no easy task. The suiting supplies were turned back at the border three times before they were allowed into the country. “[The bulletproof material is made by] military contractors, some of whom don’t necessarily want to associate with civilian wear,” says Tran. “But some of them were quite enthusiastic about the idea of this bulletproof suit.”
NO PANTS NO PROBLEM
The pants are not bulletproof, but Tran and his associates joke, “If you were ever shot in the crotch, you’d want to end your life anyway.”
Garrison Bespoke is located at 26 Wellington St. E, 416-566-2041, garrisonbespoke.com.