In the months leading up to this year’s Colombiamoda, I’d been hearing Michael Puscar, expat, entrepreneur and friend-of-the-blog, was preparing to launch a new men’s clothing line.
I saw no product photos ahead of time, so it was with great curiosity that I made my way to the Míguelo Romano booth the first day of Colombia’s Fashion Week.
The first item that caught my attention was a grey, zip-up hoodie.
From all outward appearances, it looked normal, but what made this signature hoodie unique was in the details.
According to the product description, it’s “manufactured with a special state-of-the-art fabric, a cut and blade resistant fabric that is composed of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene fibers.”
In layman’s terms, the fabric is designed to protect the wearer from knife slashes and stabs, in addition to abrasions from more typical wear and tear over time.
The concept reminded me of shark suits constructed with chain mail I’d seen demonstrated on TV shows. The diver feels the pressure of the shark bite, but their skin is protected from being cut by the sharp teeth.
Given Medellín’s past reputation, one might assume the inspiration for Míguelo Romano’s line of protective clothing came from the City of the Eternal Spring, but it was co-founder and Creative Director Neil Gallagher’s near-death experience at the hands of a knife-wielding thief on the streets of Philadelphia that served to inspire.
I had the chance to speak with Gallagher, who is based in Brooklyn, later that day, at which point I learned he’s worked for top brands including Diesel, Michael Kors and Lucky Brand.
A normal hoodie retails for $149.99, with the blade-resistant version carrying a premium price tag of $449.99, due in much part to the cost of the special material, imported from Germany.
Taking the concept a step further, the brand is also working on a line of anti-ballistics hoodies which use “high-tenacity microfilament yards that allows the clothing to absorb the kinetic energy of incoming projectiles.”
The inspiration for bulletproof hoodies came in part from Gallagher’s observations in New York City, where he’d begun noticing bouncers wearing bulletproof vests.
According to Míguelo Romano’s online store, once the anti-ballistic hoodies are available, they’ll retail for $1,299.99.
These items, part of the Armored Collection, are not intended to give their owners such security that they go looking for fights in the street. The goal is rather to incorporate new technology into fashionable clothing.
Cut-resistant and anti-ballistic clothing may grab the initial attention, but Míguelo Romano also offers a range of men’s t-shirts, polos and hats, with plans for a women’s line in 2015.
Launch Party at Luxury
Later that night, I attended the official launch party at Luxury Discoteca in Barrio Colombia, where I continued to learn more about Míguelo Romano’s ties to Medellín.
A small runway had been constructed on the ground floor, and the first performance was by Gran Colombia, a skilled dance group sporting MR shirts.
They were followed by Radio MC, one of Medellín’s top hip-hop artists, who is known and respected for the positivity in his music.
Hailing from the troubled Comuna 13, Radio MC was best friends with “El Duke” (Elider Varela), another leading rapper who was tragically murdered in 2012 amongst a spate of violence against artists in the comuna.
His performance was a dedication to his old friend, making it unexpectedly touching.
Next, we were treated to a fashion show with the same models I saw earlier at Plaza Mayor, only this time more of the clothing was on display.
There were multiple variations of the hoodies, and a wide variety of t-shirts in both classic and slim fit versions. The understated designs were the ones I liked most, but take that with a grain of salt as it also speaks to my personality.
For example, I like the simple, yet abstract look of the black short sleeve El Duke t-shirt ($29.99).
Headlining the night was Alberto Stylee, a Puerto Rican-born reggaeton singer who has been living in Medellín for several years.
He put on a fun performance, and in the video below, can be seen wearing the white El Duke Comuna 13 t-shirt ($29.99) which was another one I liked.
Alberto Stylee and Radio MC are the first two brand ambassadors for Míguelo Romano.
Leo Arango, the third co-founder, along with Michael Puscar and Neil Gallagher, is a community leader in Medellín and founder of multiple hip-hop schools.
A lawyer by trade, he manages the brand’s sponsorships and connection to the local community.
The launch party was a lot of fun and while I know they have their work cut out for them, I’m excited to see what lies ahead for Míguelo Romano.
Select items are currently available through their online shop, with a physical store due to open in Medellín later this year.