Photo: Jennifer Lau / Tenor

“You Get a Mask! And You Get a Mask!”

Many manufacturers — from a coffee filter company to apparel makers — are producing face masks

Just like in Oprah Winfrey’s iconic “you get a car” episode, it seems like every company that has the capability to, has altered its supply chain to manufacture 2020’s most sought-after textile product.

Do masks help prevent the spread?

Earlier this month, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published recommendations to wear “cloth face coverings” when out in public. Noting that using cloth to overlay the mouth will aid “to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others,” the CDC also stated that surgical and N-95 respirators should be reserved for healthcare workers.

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Photo: Alessandra Tarantino / AP Images

In what has become an unexpected controversy, the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC have conflicting views on the effectiveness of face masks. Three days after the CDC’s report, the WHO released guidance on masks saying that “The use of medical masks in the community may create a false sense of security.”

An industry effort

At a time when in-person sales have virtually vanished for the fashion industry, (Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company estimate a 27–30 percent contraction in global sales) brands are getting creative to supplement loss revenues and create more supply of the potentially life-saving item.

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Photo: Ministry of Supply

Ministry of Supply, a high-tech dress clothing startup founded in 2012 by former MIT students, has created their own face mask design using 3D printing. Their COVID-19 Maskº Initiative is using 100% of any donations to make and distribute face masks to the medical community:

We’re making an initial donation of 5,000 masks to the Boston Medical Center. We want to donate more but need your help. 100% of all donations and 2% of every sale will go to the production, procurement and distribution of masks.

EVERYBODY.WORLD, a self-described eco-friendly and ethical fashion company based in Los Angeles, has also designed a face mask specifically for this time. Their Cotton Mask costs $10 and at the time of writing, is sold out. A portion of the sales go towards their factory workers’ relief fund.

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Photo: Melitta

And most surprisingly, coffee filter company Melitta is using parts of its supply chain to make millions of face masks. Melitta general partner Jero Bentz said “With our production capacities, we are able to manufacture considerable quantities of face masks in a very short time,” in the company’s press release.

Companies from all types of industries have taken unprecedented steps to fight the coronavirus and protect their business. If you can’t get your hands on a manufactured face mask, watch this tutorial from U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) / YouTube

Perspectives on the consumer & retail industries, and the brands trying to upend them

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