What is the relationship between the politics of fear and fashionable bulletproof vests? Is the individual choice to sport the Jack Bauer look a political choice or does it have political effects and consequences?
“When people are feeling less secure, there is more demand for armor,” said Nick Taylor, who is the manager of BulletProofME.com, a Web site selling tactical gear to police officers, security guards and journalists in war zones. Sales of antiballistic jackets, vests and even backpacks have risen by some 20 percent this year, Mr. Taylor said. Recently he has found himself fielding requests from real estate agents involved in foreclosure eviction proceedings, repo men, convenience store clerks and “regular folks from all walks of life who’ve kind of had a brush with crime.”
And fashion folks, of course — many of them self-styled S.W.A.T. commandos who scour spy shops, army surplus outfitters and online retailers for vests and coats that combine serviceability with a significant measure of style. Bulletproof vests have yet to claim the modish status of a biker jacket, but to those in the vanguard, they offer a comparably hard-edged chic.