After launching a small line of tactical-inspired women’s clothing in 2012, Smith & Wesson’s apparel licensee, Wild Things, LLC, showed a newly expanded line of concealed-carry clothing for ladies at SHOT Show this month. While walking through the line with Kim Pingaro, their VP of product development and marketing, I was impressed—not only by the number of wardrobe options the brand is now providing the female consumer or law-enforcement professional who needs to conceal an off-duty weapon, but by how thoughtfully the clothes have been designed. Bonus: They’re still wearable and feminine.
It’s clear to me that Pingaro’s team has considered consumer feedback and expert opinions on the best placement and design of specialty pockets and details. There are two styles of Barn Jacket in the collection that will be available online this March. Both offer two internal concealed-carry pockets with elastic straps, deep front bottom pockets large enough for a small firearm, and handwarmer pockets. (I personally hate when I go to stash my hands in side pockets and find no place for them.)
The Cargo Shooting Skirt gives a gal yet another option for concealing a small handgun and boasts a special cut in the pocket that enables a knife to rest upright. I like that the hemline hits above the knee—any longer than that and I’m afraid the skirt would lose its sporty, youthful appeal and instead suggest that the wearer works as a parochial school gym teacher. The same pocket design is incorporated into a lightweight cargo pant, if that’s more your thing.
Pingaro told me that they test the garments for fit and ease of access to whatever's concealed, and if something isn't working, they nix it—for example, she showed me the prototype for a pair of bootcut pants with deep, elasticized pockets at the front hip, which won't appear on the version going to market for fall 2013. "We found that the fit was already really challenging in the hip area, and there isn't much of a demand from women to holster their gun in that pocket. Instead we're going to work on solutions for tucking the gun in at the lower back and continue asking our experts in law enforcement about how best to conceal a weapon at the ankle."
By listening to their female customers, Smith & Wesson has created clothing that is functional and stylish—and I really admire that. What I think is even cooler is the way they’ve branded their garments in such a subtle, intelligent way—some emblazon their gear with (hot pink) logos, but S&W accessorizes with references to its own 150-year history. One shirt is embroidered across the upper back with a scrollwork design pulled from one of the brand’s classic pistols. The fabric lining a jacket is patterned with the blueprints from a gun, and the zippers have signature gun-hammer pulls. These little winks at the company’s heritage actually help the clothes look classic, rugged, and all-American.
And can I get a hallelujah for their Smoke Blue color option? In a showroom scattered with pink camo and at-least-I’m-not-pink purple jackets and tops, I found this dusty teal color to be such a refreshing solution to girlying up the Barn Jacket, which is also in the men’s line. Shop for the ladies or the guys at smithandwessonapparel.com or wildthingsgear.com beginning in March.