This 1975 news story reports on the an Illinois apparel manufacturer making a new line of clothing from Kevlar, a material five times stronger than steel, that even .357 Magnum bullets can't penetrate (as demonstrations prove). Target market: men and women fearful of "big city" crime and assault.
Fashion of the Highest Caliber: Company Makes Bulletproof Clothing
JOHN CHANCELLOR, anchor:
And finally this evening, a story from a nice, little town in Illinois, a place called Jacksonville, and it’s a story that proves again that you can’t tell from looking at a small town what’s going on there. And in this story, reported by Bob Jamison, what’s going on is something you would not suspect.
BOB JAMISON, reporting:
Jacksonville is a quiet, little town, surrounded by farms that grow corn and soybeans, and far away in miles and quantity of fear from the big cities to the north and east, but someday soon, this community may be a focal point of interest for the fearful residents of those crime filled big cities. Jacksonville is the home of J. Capps and Sons Limited. The business was started in 1839 by Old Joe Capps, who bought wool from nearby farmers, and made it into yarn. Succeeding generations made that yarn into blankets, the favorites of Buffalo Bill Cody who endorsed them, and of Indians who took the blankets west, and sold them to unsuspecting tourists as the real thing. Later, the Capps Company made men’s suits, but lately it has fallen on hard times. Most of its 100,000 square foot plant has been idle since last summer, when Capps cut its workforce by 90%. But now, Capps is about to call the workers back, and bring out a new line that should be the rage in big city shops. It is clothing made of Kevlar, a new miracle fiber that can stop bullets from almost any handgun. The fiber, five times stronger than steel, was originally developed for tires, but studies showed that it could be gathered together in layers to make soft body armor, the kind worn by this dummy. And studies have shown that it can stop bullets from even the powerful 357-Magnum. And that brings us to J. Capps’ anticipated spring line: a line of apparel for both men and women, vests, and undergarments, and sport coats, that can be worn by people in high-risk jobs, or just plain folks worried about assault. The company’s president believes that a fashion conscious public will soon want to buy not just body armor, but the best looking body armor.
BILL CAPPS III (President, J. Capps Co.): We have something that people will want to wear that they will look nice in. I think some of the people who are considering the area of soft body armor are missing the point, somewhat, in trying to design things that are functional, but they don’t really look nice.
JAMISON: Initially, Capps Pro-Life Clothing, as they call it, won’t be available off the rack because some law enforcement officials want to see the line registered so it doesn’t fall into criminal hands. Bob Jamison, NBC News, Jacksonville, Illinois.
The silk of the humble spider has some pretty impressive properties. It’s one of the sturdiest materials found in nature, stronger than steel and tougher than Kevlar. It can be stretched several times its length before it breaks. For these reasons, replicating spider silk in the lab has been a bit of an obsession among materials scientists for decades.