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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Bullet-resistant clothing company sees increased demand

Abbas Haider (left) and Robert Davis show off a backpack into which bullet-resistant material was recently inserted. The pair run American Armor Attire out of a Spotsylvania office and have seen an increase in demand since the Sandy Hook tragedy.

A Spotsylvania County-based company that manufactures and sells bullet-resistant clothing has seen increased interest in its products in the wake of a tragic elementary school shooting last month.

Traffic at American Armor Attire’s website has increased fivefold since the Dec. 14 shootings that killed 26 people at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., company owners Abbas Haider and Robert Davis said this week.

Most of the inquiries have been for jackets, backpacks and undershirts holding bullet-resistant Kevlar. The company has created bullet-resistant backpacks for elementary school students.

“There’s always going to be a threat,” said Haider, the company’s president and majority owner. “So why not protect yourself?”

Haider and Davis came up with the idea for American Armor Attire during a class project at the University of Mary Washington, from which they graduated last spring. It was an extension of a custom-made suit and shirt business that Haider started in 2008 called Aspetto Inc. Davis is now a minority owner and the company’s vice president.

American Armor Attire is a subsidiary of Aspetto, which recently branched into women’s clothing and is working on a website and mobile application that will allow customers to design their outfits.

Aspetto leases space  in a tucked-away business park near Shannon Airport from the owners of Renegade Armor, which sells an array of tactical gear and armor to police, military and government agencies. Renegade Armor supplies the Kevlar to Aspetto, which inserts it into its own clothing.

American Armor Attire started with a primary focus on the formalwear worn by security officials, government contractors, members of the military, police officers and more. Lately the company has tried to create more product lines that cater to the general public seeking protection.

Aspetto recently received a $12,000 grant from Spotsylvania’s Economic Development Authority to purchase machinery, train workers and launch the online store. The company has now hired two fashion designers and has five interns from UMW. Haider and Davis plan to hire more sales representatives and tailors.