If there were any lingering doubts about the influence women have had on the shooting world in recent years, they were certainly put to rest during the latest Olympic Games in Rio. This year, it was the girls who were bringing home the gold for the U.S. in shooting sports. Competitors like Ginny Thrasher and Kim Rhode are as talented and dedicated as they come, and they’ve got the stats to prove it.
Today, the community of American gun owners is a far cry from the boys club it once was.
In fact, women are currently the fastest growing demographic of gun owners in the country.
Women between the ages of 18 and 34, in particular, are embracing gun ownership and education in record numbers. In the interest of self-defense, many of these women are getting their concealed carry licenses as well.
Now, this trend has given rise to a new niche in women’s fashion designed to keep the “concealed” in concealed carry.
Until recently, most concealed carry gear has been designed with the proportions of a male body in mind. Conventional holsters may be easy enough to hide on a male frame, but they can look bulky and conspicuous on a woman’s body. Clothes that are conducive to concealing a firearm have also been pretty limited for women. The most viable options – baggy T-shirts and big coats, for example – typically aren’t exactly fashionable either. That’s why companies like The Well Armed Woman and Nickel and Lace are having great success creating holsters and clothing designed specifically for female gun owners.
Some of these items are ergonomically designed holsters made to accommodate the curve of a woman’s hips. Others are fashionable pieces of apparel that offer concealed carry pockets without sacrificing form for function. By and large, these products are designed for women, by women. In many cases, these companies are started by female gun owners who simply recognized a demand and took the opportunity to capitalize on it.
“I don’t want to dress in tactical gear and camo all the time,” said Nickel and Lace founder Marilyn Smolenski in an interview with The Seattle Times. “I love tactical clothing for the range. It’s comfortable. I don’t want to ruin my everyday clothing. But I don’t want to wear it to the grocery store.”
Thanks to Smolenski and other innovators like her, women can now enjoy the security of carrying a concealed weapon in the same comfort as their male counterparts. In fact, some men have even had success with the more discreet, snug-fitting holster designs as well.