Joseph Jenkins (24) is a bulletproof sartorialist. This London based bespoke tailor creates made-to-measure body protection with Dyneema®. Jenkins’ pieces are highly functional garments, with the looks of a true piece of art.
JJ: My name is Joseph Jenkins, 24 years old and I’m a bespoke tailor in London.
I fell in love with traditional handcrafted bespoke tailoring whilst I was being taught by the legendary Edward Sexton, roughly 5 years ago. Edward has a passion for a well cut and crafted garment that is hard to put into words, and it’s safe to say, his passion rubbed off on me. “Charm” would be key, the way the suit carries its shape on and off the mannequin, the countless pad stitches creating hundreds of dimples on the underside of the lapel, the hand-sewn buttonholes or hand finished linings. These details give the garment such charm and beauty, a sculpted piece of cloth you can see and feel has been engineered by experienced hands.
Another side of tailoring I fell in love with was the culture. Especially from back in the REAL Savile Row days, when British bespoke tailoring was internationally respected and helped define British icons: The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Cary Grant & Sir Michael Caine to name a few.
JJ: In the final year of my degree at London College of Fashion and with the help of international sponsors, I created the first completely bulletproof suit. It was a tailored jacket and double breasted waistcoat. It represents the shooting of various low velocity bullets from a range of handguns. The interior of both the jacket and waistcoat contained a hand-shaped system of Kevlar® and Kevlar® felt. Since then I have been introduced to Dyneema® which significantly reduces the weight of the suit and increases the flexibility/wearability.
JJ: Initially it was used as part of the inside of the suit and since then I have developed stronger and lighter bulletproof suits using solely Dyneema®. I have also crafted a range of “high fashion” garments using raw Dyneema® and loose weave black Kevlar®.
JJ: With regard to the bulletproof suiting, it is much more lightweight and flexible than ever before. The high fashion pieces are just as much art/sculpture as beautiful garments.
JJ: Ahaha, Dyneema® can be pretty frustrating to work with! Cutting a fabric as strong as Dyneema® is quite an issue, I have developed an unorthodox technique of first scoring around my pattern pieces with a pizza cutter, followed by weighing the material down before slowly cutting with specialist shears!
JJ: The one common factor between all my clients would be the love for handcrafted British tailoring and supporting British trade, apart from this, every client has different wants/needs and requirements. Some are here for the personal touches, the hidden gems inside the suit, others need bespoke tailoring due to size, form or proportion. Some are flamboyant, others prefer to remain understated with a touch of class.
The majority of customers come from personal referrals, most clients need to be able to see and feel the quality before committing to spend so much on a suit.
JJ: When I first designed the suit a number of years ago, it incorporated Kevlar® and was more of a conceptual piece due to its weight and flexibility. However now with the introduction of Dyneema®, the properties of the suit have been drastically improved and I am planning to bring it to market soon. I am currently working alongside body armour companies in the UK to make this happen and therefore it will have full product liability insurance coverage.
It will also comply to the relevant government regulations with regards to supply and/or export. All enquiries would be subject to full vetting to ensure they don’t get into the wrong hands.
JJ: All the materials I have currently been introduced to under the Dyneema® brand are in the form of a unidirectional material and therefore I would not really class them as fabrics (as they are not woven). However I have recently been made aware that the Dyneema® fibre can be woven and I would be very excited to play with this going forward. I am not sure if the woven fabric would retain similar qualities but I am sure it would be super strong and durable. Also I am sure a Dyneema® thread would be awesome in terms of strengthening seams and durability!
JJ: From an artistic standpoint I think raw Dyneema® (SB115) is beautiful and has spectacular sculptural and light properties.
SB115 is a new unidirectional material presented by DSM, when many layers are applied in a body armour system it is considerably lighter and more flexible than previous solutions. Now the material has been commercialised and hit the market. I believe it is already being used by defence forces and is the new material used to protect law enforcement within the NYPD.
JJ: Personally I find some of the most exciting innovation to be regarding the environment and "saving" the planet. New ideas to help clean up the great Pacific garbage patch, Elon Musk trying to move us into renewable energy etc. Actually I just saw some designs for his hyperloop, a vacuum tube transportation system, which looks extremely exciting and interesting!