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Denim Brands Big and Small Pivot to Mask Production for COVID-19 Relief Efforts

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Following in the footsteps of major fashion conglomerates like LVMH and H&M Group, denim brands big and small are supporting COVID-19 relief initiatives by manufacturing protective gear for workers in need.

L.A.-based denim brand Citizens of Humanity took to its Instagram page on Friday to offer California officials assistance in the production of protective gear.

“To @gavinnewsom @cagovernor @ericgarcetti @mayorofla @countyofla and all those in our local and state government, our sewing and manufacturing facilities are here to help. Our teams are ready to make the necessary supplies to keep medical staff safe,” the photo caption read.

From there, the brand started prototyping different face masks that the Los Angeles Times reports were sent to City of Hope, Cedars-Sinai, Stanford Children’s Hospital, UCLA Health and other organizations.

The brand projects it will be able to produce up to 150,000 masks a week across its 15 seamstresses on the job. A standardized mask design is still awaiting approval from a USC doctor.

Likewise, Ohio-based Zace Denim pivoted from denim to mask production after founder Zach Myers learned of the mask shortage throughout the nation.

The company’s three-person team developed three different prototypes for protective gear: a face mask with elastic ear straps, a face mask with tie-back ear straps and a button bandana. The masks are made with Army ripstop fabric. From the amount of materials he was able to procure, Myers expects to be able to produce 1,000 masks and 10,000 button bandanas, which will be distributed where needed.

Myers took to the Zace Instagram page on Wednesday to make it clear that these products are not medically certified. Though medical workers and others on the front lines require N95 masks, Zace is able to produce materials that can fit over the masks and provide a barrier—which can later be sanitized—to the outside world. This solution would also allow workers to re-use their highly coveted, in-demand N95 masks.

“I think it goes without saying that it is because of the shortage, and in some cases complete depletion of N95 masks, that we are all in this position to find the closest alternative,” he said. “The next best thing to an N95 mask, according to the CDC, is 100 percent cotton.”

Items will retail for $5 each, which covers the cost of material and labor. They can be purchased at Buttonbandana.com when the site goes live on Thursday.

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