By Ashley McGee
It appears the firearms industry is finally starting to take the female consumer seriously with more manufacturers ditching the “pink it and shrink it” philosophy in favor of products truly engineered and designed for women.
Year after year we’ve seen an increase in both women’s tactical and hunting apparel, but the product segment with arguably the greatest growth potential is concealed carry apparel for women.
Rise Of Everyday Activewear
Until the launch of Alexo Athletica in 2017, functional everyday activewear designed to carry was hard to find. With how quickly items from its debut collection sold out, demand could no longer be ignored.
Previously only sold directly to consumers through the company’s website, Alexo Athletica recently partnered with a few retailers around the country — including Frontier Justice.
From inception, Frontier Justice was founded specifically with the needs of women in mind. The store has two locations: one in Kansas City, Kan., and the other in Lee’s Summit, Mo. Sprawling 35,000 square feet, each location includes a range, state-of-the-art shooting simulator room, classroom and event space and 10,000 square feet of retail area.
After years of accompanying her husband to various gun stores and observing countless other women like herself not making purchases, Co-Owner Bren Brown wanted to create an environment where women felt at home.
To do so, Brown thoughtfully planned a layout starting with a fashion-clothing boutique in the front of the store followed by a transitional area where customers would find tactical items including concealed carry apparel and accessories. Beyond that is the firearms showroom, set up with cases similar to what you’d find in a jewelry store.
With an undergraduate degree in psychology, Brown had long been bothered by the shift of power that takes places at the typical gun counter.
“Generally, you see a man standing between a counter of handguns and a wall of long guns behind him,” she said. “It’s intimidating not only to women, but to anyone not already familiar with firearms.”
From the layout of the store and the products
they carry to classes for women and children, everything Frontier Justice offers has been
designed with the intention to break the mold.
Trunk Show Provides
In May, Alexo Athletica Founder and CEO Amy Robbins hosted a pop-up as part of the “Safe Without a Firearm” course at Frontier Justice’s Kansas City location. Held over Mother’s Day weekend, the goal of the course was to inform women of the various options available to them other than a firearm including pepper sprays, stun guns, expandable batons, pressure point control devices, edged tools and illumination devices.
The event was the perfect opportunity to showcase Alexo Athletica’s Signature Pant (retail $99) which features nine total pockets — seven in the waistband and one on each leg — as well as reflective detail to keep wearers safe in low-lit areas. Three designated areas were designed to store a personal protection tool such as a pepper blaster, TASER or firearm (23 oz. loaded or less). Other special pockets are ideal for holding a smartphone, keys, credit cards and more. Alexo leggings are also available in 7/8 and crop lengths.
First teased at SHOT Show, Alexo’s 2019 Spring Collection includes its first-ever concealed carry running short. Using the same pocket system as all Alexo leggings, the Carry Runners (retail $72) have seven pockets built into the waistband to carry personal protection and other essentials.
The collection also includes the Mesh Cupro Tank (retail $49) and Hi Lo Sweater (retail $74) to help wearers conceal whatever they might be carrying in their Alexo leggings or shorts. Both items are available in black, white and gray.
Other Up-And-Coming Brands
A fresh crop of options has emerged the last few years for women looking to add to their concealed carry apparel repertoire.
On her blog and Instagram account, boasting 20,000 followers, Emily Valentine of Style Me Tactical (@stylemetactical) encourages women to realize they don’t have to choose between being stylish and self-reliant. Through “outfit of the day”-style photos, she showcases different ways to carry using various holsters including Kydex, bellyband/body wraps and clip attachments.
“First-time shooters, regardless of gender, are trusting dealers to be the experts,” Valentine said. “For women interested in carrying for personal protection, it’s important she’s educated about the different options available as there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.”
A lot of factors can determine the best way for a woman to carry — including her body type, clothing style, special needs (such as physical limitations or health requirements) and simply personal preference.
Towing the line between apparel and accessory, the Hip Hugger Holster from Can Can Concealment could be considered more of an undergarment. It’s available in three models depending on the overall length of the firearm — Micro (firearms up to 4.5″), Classic (4.5″ to 6.5″) and Big SheBang (over 6.5″).
Often preferred by women who wear skirts and dresses, Can Can Concealment offers a Garter Holster made from military-grade elastic combined with hypoallergenic non-slip tacti-grip material to keep the holster in place. It is available in the same three models as the Hip Hugger depending on the length of the firearm being carried.
The garter and hip hugger holsters are both available in sizes S–XL. Women can choose from solid black or black with hot pink or purple detailing.
Dene Adams also offers a selection of undergarment-style carry options. Their Outer Thigh Holster Shorts securely holster up to two micro- to full-size guns. Because the holster compartments are identical on each thigh, this holster is ambidextrous. The Body Shaping Thigh Holster Shorts for inner thigh is available in right- and left-hand draw. Both are made from Lycra, offering soft, but moderate support. Color options include black or nude.
It’s All About Options
The point is, women want options. As a dealer, it’s going to take more than a single display rack of concealed carry purses. With apparel, women often want to feel the material and try items on for fit before making a purchase.
If you’re hesitant to invest in a wide variety of concealed carry apparel for women, considered contacting the companies featured here about hosting an in-store trunk show event to help you gauge what the demand is in your market. After all, women simply can’t buy products that aren’t there.
For more info:
Editor’s Note: Additional images of the products featured here are available online at www.shootingindustry.com.