New Balance Will Be Making Masks for Hospital Frontliners
In the fight against the COVID-19 virus, it’s interesting to see how organizations are turning to their expertise, retooling what they were doing in the time before the pandemic into something that can help right now.
The fashion world, for instance, offers what it does best: make clothes. Many brands are transforming their facilities, which once made, say, the shoe of the moment or next season’s look, into centers for the production of much-needed masks, face shields, and other personal protective gear for health workers.
American athletic company New Balance is the latest label to switch gears, announcing on social media that it is “working to develop, manufacture, and deliver facial masks to the hospital community.” The graphic accompanying the post even alludes to the shift with the text reading: “Made shoes yesterday. Making masks today.”
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On its website, it revealed more details, adding that it is “producing prototypes for face masks in our Lawrence, MA manufacturing facility and hope to scale production using our other New England factories soon.”
No doubt, for a company that has been making shoes, including our favorite, the understated 990v5, for over 100 years, producing masks is doable. It can even be cool as seen in the image in the post, which depicts the use of twisted neon laces as ties to secure the mask.
Apart from masks, the Boston-based company, through the New Balance Foundation, has also committed $2 million in non-profit grants for COVID-19 relief. The funds will be directed to various organizations, including Global Giving, an outfit that works on “immediate and long-term relief and recovery in vulnerable communities worldwide,” No Kid Hungry, which focuses on food banks for children in the U.S., and more.
Aside from New Balance, more stalwarts of the fashion industry have rallied for COVID-19 relief. Chanel, the glossiest of fashion houses, is working on prototypes of face masks, Armani is producing single-use medical overalls, and Burberry will be producing hospital gowns and masks.
In the country, local style groups have also taken up the call for help, with Power Fashion Inc., makers of Bayo, lending its fabrics and facilities to the Department of Science and Technology. Together, they are producing 500,000 water-repellent, washable, and reusable face masks for health workers.