Jewelry, Fashion Brands, and Execs Are Making Health Care Masks 

There’s a nationwide effort underway to make masks for health care workers in U.S. hospitals, which anticipate a profound shortage of them in the near future as the number of COVID-19 infections climbs

Newly formed Facebook groups, craft and sewing circles, and companies including JoAnn Fabrics have urged private citizens to break out their sewing machines and make stacks of masks for medical personnel taking care of the sick. Video tutorials from JoAnn Fabrics and others have cropped up online to show sewers how to do it and provide patterns.

The jewelry and fashion industries are also rallying to manufacture masks, on small and large scales.

Yesterday, Manos Phoundoulakis, business development manager of jewelry brand Omi Privé, and his wife, Kelly, posted a GoFundMe page to raise $750 for the fabric and shipping of hundreds of masks the couple is making at home. They’re sending masks to anyone who requests them, free of charge. You can see the page and donate to their efforts here.

Manos Phoundoulakis
Above and top: Jewelry executive Manos Phoundoulakis  and his wife, Kelly, are manufacturing medical masks from their home (photo courtesy of Manos and Kelly Phoundoulakis).

“Like many of you who are either self-isolating or live in a city where  mandatory stay-at-home restrictions are in place, we are feeling overwhelmingly helpless as we watch the numbers of infected and casualties rise daily all over the world,” the couple wrote on the page. “In an effort to offer something that could truly be of use, we bought a sewing machine and a bunch of fun fabrics and decided to YouTube it and learn how to make face masks…. These masks are good enough and better than nothing. They can also be worn over a more industrial mask that cannot be washed, as these are made of tight knit cotton and definitely can be washed.”

The fashion industry, which is ideally positioned to manufacture masks, has responded to the call with vigor. On Friday, designer Christian Siriano tweeted out: “If @NYGovCuomo says we need masks, my team will help make some. I have a full sewing team still on staff working from home that can help.” Governor Andrew Cuomo’s team took him up on the offer, and the Siriano team is currently making masks.

WWD reports that brands HanesBrands, Fruit of the Loom, Kering, American Giant, Los Angeles Apparel, AST Sportswear, SanMar, Michael Costello, Brandon Maxwell, Karla Colletto, Marc Bouwer, Nicole Miller, Prabal Gurung, America Knits, Beverly Knits, Hanky Panky, and Riegel Linen are among the brands that are also making masks.

Italian designer brand Prada has started production of 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 face masks; New York City fashion brand Pyer Moss has turned its office into a donation center for medical supplies, including masks and latex gloves; and Ralph Lauren is “exploring how the company can be involved with the relief efforts to make masks and gowns,” a company spokesman told WWD Monday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is reportedly asking certain manufacturers to begin creating masks. WWD reports that agency officials approached HanesBrands about producing cotton masks. Now under contract with the federal government, HanesBrands is aiming to make up to 1.5 million face masks each week and is sharing the mask specs and patterns with other government-minted mask producers.

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JCK Magazine Editor