Lest you thought the "bulletproof" backpack trend wasn't heinous and exploitative enough, Wonder Hoodie is now selling a "bulletproof" hoodie.
I use "scare-quotes" here because, like most "bulletproof" products on the market, this hoodie claims to rate a IIIA on the National Institute of Justice's Body Armor Performance Standards. This means that the padding is "Tested to stop .357 SIG and .44 Magnum ammunition fired from longer barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection."
So it's not really bulletproof so much as it is bullet resistant for certain handguns. Which ain't gonna help in the occasion someone shows up with an AR-15 or similar semi-automatic rifle. Also, if we're being technical, it hasn't actually been tested and certified by the NIJ, but rather by an independent lab. But I digress.
If it does make you feel comfortable about the statistically likelihood situation of a mass shooting, then by all means, spend the $800 for the adult-sized hoodie, even though you're more likely to die in a boating or a spaceship incident. (To be fair, a deliberate assault by a gun is way more likely than either of these events, though still a lower risk than death from cancer, flu, or falling.) And to make it even more worth the exploitative emotional manipulation investment, the company also offers a "Limited Lifetime Warranty." Here's what that entails:
If you get shot (God forbid) with our hoodies on, we'll send you a replacement hoodie FREE of charge. Just include the police report or news clip.
I could see how this might provide some solace to people who are suffering from PTSD after surviving a shooting incident, even if they weren't shot themselves. But it still leaves a largely gross taste in my mouth, even if they do claim to donate one hoodie to a school teacher for every 10 hoodies sold.
Unfortunately, the company only offers a 2 day warranty. Yes, really. "If 2 days have gone by since receiving your Wonder Hoodie product, unfortunately we can’t offer you a refund or exchange." That feels a little sketchy — I've definitely ordered things that I didn't open right away, or didn't have the time to figure out the return process right away. Coupled with the fact that Wonder Hoodie offers no information on the founders of the company, and what (if any) experience they might have in the defense industry, I find this particularly questionable.
Most bulletproof backpack companies at least boast about the founders' experience in the ROTC or National Guard or IDF or local police, etc. Wonder Hoodie offers … nothing. About anyone involved. Their Facebook page was created 2 days after the Las Vegas strip shooting in 2017, but no posts were made until December 30, 2019. Similarly, the first post on their Instagram page commemorates this event on the same day the Facebook page was created, but, with there are no more posts until January 2019.
After a little more digging, I found a possible name for the founder: Vy Tran. According to a Forbes 30 Under 30 profile from 2019:
For Vy Tran, Wonder Hoodie is personal. After her neighbor was shot to death walking home, 26-year-old Tran quit a well-paid management job and poured her savings into a startup in 2018 that designs and manufactures bulletproof hoodies to keep people safer in their communities. "I don't want anyone to have to need my product but if it's what they need to feel safe I'd like to help them do that." Sales topped $500,000 in the first 11 months and should reach $4 million this year as she shakes up the body armor market, offering better head protection and modern fashion.
This sure smells like a scam to me.
Image via Wikimedia Commons