On Tuesday, the New York Times ran a Fashion & Style story by Matt Richtel entitled "New Fashion Wrinkle: Stylishly Hiding the Gun."
The piece, which details all of the brands that offer clothing for stylish gun wear, has been criticized as "tone deaf" in light of the Trayvon Martin tragedy — and the clothing itself has been generally ridiculed as unnecessary.
That isn't stopping one Houston designer. Brian Hoffner, the same man who brought you the Houston Modern Market, recently launched American Tactical Apparel, his own brand of concealed carry clothing.
"There has never been the perfect way to conceal and carry your pistol while dressing professionally and looking presentable at the same time," Hoffner told CultureMap.
Hoffner, who has been designing his own holsters "out of necessity" for more than 27 years, said that he created the clothing for the same reason.
"There has never been the perfect way to conceal and carry your pistol while dressing professionally and looking presentable at the same time," Hoffner told CultureMap over the phone as a spattering of gunshots rang out in the background. (He was instructing at the police academy during the call.)
Hoffner says that tactical pants in his line look fashionable and, thanks to a special inner layer of neoprene, fit comfortably and adequately conceal weapons — with more than enough room to pack a phone and a camera, plus rifle and pistol cartridges.
Plus, they're made in the U.S.A.
Though the line is currently limited to blue jeans, khakis and shorts, American Tactical Apparel will expand to include jackets, shirts, dress pants and women's clothing.
A soft launch at the SWAT Conference last weekend garnered "rave reviews," but Hoffner promises that these are really designed for every demographic, from police officers to soccer moms.
According to the controversial New York Times article, the ranks of concealed handgun permit holders are huge — at seven million in 2011, up from five million in 2008 — and continuing to grow.
(I'll avoid dwelling on how uneasy this makes me, especially given that many states have "shall issue" statues that allow citizens to receive concealed weapon permits if they meet such stringent legal requirements as, um, "not being a felon.")
But Hoffner, a vocal proponent of self-defense and self-sufficiency, believes the a responsible person should always have the right to carry and conceal a weapon.
"The firearm is never an issue unless it's needed," he said.