From Saturday’s edition of The New York Times: “It is unclear whether enough new masks and other protective gear will be available before health care facilities start getting overwhelmed by an anticipated flood of infected patients.”
And then magically, (but why am I not surprised?), I started getting reports throughout the weekend of menswear companies that put their tailors to work making masks for local hospitals. What follows, a few of the heartwarming notices we received.
From Guy Milinazzo, EVP at Gladson, an NYC-based distributor of luxury fabric:
“After reading the NYT article, Gladson reached out to Dr. Lauren Streicher to check on the specifications needed (grade and weight). Gladson has cotton fabric in their NJ warehouse and works with tailors and designers daily, some of whom have sewing machines at home. So we reached out and supplied sewers, tailors, and designers with cotton to make masks. (The next phase is working out delivery once the masks are made.)
I am grateful to customers like Dara Lamb in NYC and Marc Streisand (Mark Allen Clothiers in Providence, R.I.) who both contacted Gladson with the idea to help the people on the front lines in the medical field. I have a daughter who is a nurse, so this is close to home for me. Gladson, with the support of others, hopes to make 1 million masks, and with these efforts afoot, I believe we will persevere. It feels good to help in any small way we can.”
(If you have interest in this project, please contact – Guy Milinazzo at email@example.com.)
From Michael Duru Menswear, Shrewsbury, New Jersey:
“We are working hard making masks, and have posted videos on our Facebook page of how we do it. Our great business partner Mitch Gambert from Mel Gambert Shirtmakers is also using our pattern and has mobilized his factory in Newark to make many more masks than we are able to produce. Every area hospital has contacted us. Anyone with usable masks should please donate to the nearest hospital.”
From Phil Mauser at Daniel’s Men’s Store, Morgantown, WV:
“I’m a small men’s store that employs two master tailors. I got a call from my pediatrician (we have a two-month-old) and she asked if I knew anyone that could help make masks. I asked her to give me some specifics.
She sent me a website that showed a pattern and supplies. I immediately went to Hobby Lobby and bought 40 yards of fabric and elastic, stopped by my store to take sewing machines to my tailors’ homes and started working with them.
We have delivered 300 masks so far. It helps our medical personnel keep their masks cleaner and keeps my tailors employed while my store is closed for the virus.”
From Robert Brunelle, Main Street Formals, Acushnet, MA
“After a week or two of modifying operations with hopes to stay open, I decided I couldn’t keep the staff safe, so we closed completely on Monday 3/16. Over the weekend, one of our longtime tailoring customers (we accept alterations from outside) privately messaged me to inquire if we could make some masks for her and her fellow nurses at a Providence hospital. My wonderful head tailor and her “apprentice” (Mary and Marie, respectively) both agreed to come in on separate shifts (for social distancing), which started today. There are many patterns online, and we picked the one we felt we could produce the fastest. We do offer our full-time staff some limited time off, but it killed me to see them burn through it for something like this, so this seemed like a win/win, i.e., a way to feel like we’re being productive/useful, and for them to preserve some of their PTO and continue working (safely). I have a close friend and a sister who work at New England hospitals so we’re making masks for those hospitals as well as for our local hospital. We’ve also reached out to our local hospital (St. Luke’s) to see if they need any. We have plenty of fabric on hand, so everyone is going to look fabulous.”
I’m certain there are many more retailers and manufacturers who have stepped up to the plate, and many more who will now do so. I’ve always known that menswear people are special: we will get through this world crisis together!