From camisole cross-body holsters to easy-access zip dresses: The rise of women’s fashion designed to conceal guns
Fashion designers are cashing in on new state laws allowing concealed weapons by creating clothes and accessories for the purpose of hiding guns.
Sarah Church, founder of her own eponymous clothing line, is just one designer whose creations have been featured at the Firearms and Fashion Show, an event held in Chicago that showcases how to incorporate items of self defense into your wardrobe.
One of her designs is a $165 front-zip hoodie dress that comes in black and green. ‘This is a dress you could wear anywhere, anytime,’ she told the Chicago Tribune. ‘And when you’re carrying a gun underneath, no one will know it.’
Firearm fashion: More and more designers are creating clothes for the purpose of hiding guns – like easy-access zip dresses (top) and camisole garters with detachable holsters (bottom)
They explained that the show has the purpose of helping women realize they can be fashionable at the same time as carrying arms.
‘This is about getting women to think about self-protection,’ said Ms Bartuch. ‘We are girly girls who like fashion, but we like guns too.’
Ms Smolenski’s website is catered to the same demographic; on it, women can purchase an under-bust camisole with detachable garters and cross-body holsters.
The weapon-concealing accessories , which cost $77.95, come in ‘Vanilla Ice’ and ‘Pirate Black’ and are meant to be worn under normal clothes – like one of Sarah Church’s hoodie dresses.
The market for these fashionable firearm concealers is surprisingly large; according to a Gallup poll, women made up 23per cent of gun owners nationwide in 2011, up from just 13per cent in 2005.
Keep it hidden: At the Firearms and Fashion Show, an event held in Chicago, designers showcase how to incorporate items of self defense into your wardrobe
Concealing on the catwalk: A model shows off a design at the Firearms and Fashion Show on Saturday.
Playing it safe: Marilyn Smolenski (left), who runs online shop Nickel and Lace, and former police officer Karen Bartuch (right) hosted. ‘We are girly girls who like fashion, but we like guns too,’ said Ms Bartuch
In Illinois, which struck down a concealed weapons ban in July, state police have approved more than 8,300 concealed carry licenses for women, which accounts for about 20per cent of the total.
The Well Armed Woman is another website that specializes in gun-concealing clothes and accessories. Here, visitors can browse resources on gun ownership as well as shop for tank tops, shorts and carry bags made for holding guns.
‘We are girly girls who like fashion, but we like guns too’
Owner Carrie Lightfoot writes that she discovered the need for such a website when she began thinking of buying a gun herself several years ago.
‘I began to realize that there was a great divide between women’s interest in guns and the male dominated “camo and ammo” firearm industry,’ she explained.
Female-friendly shooting clothing and resources may have been few and far-between when she launched the site in 2012, but now, it’s a different story.
Under wraps: The Well Armed Woman is another website that specializes in gun concealment clothes and accessories, like these concealment compression undershorts
Changes on the horizon: ‘About five years ago, the industry started realizing there were women out there wanting to shoot,’ said owner Carrie Lightfoot
These days, in fact, her women’s meet-up group – which teaches participants how to ‘learn and grow as shooters’ – has 188 chapters across the country.
She explained that with the rise in female gun ownership, the entire industry is being turned on its head.
‘The industry has been so male-driven,’ she said. ‘On some levels, there was a condescending attitude toward women at first. There was a flood of pink holsters and pink guns.
‘About five years ago, the industry started realizing there were women out there wanting to shoot.’