More on masks

by Karen Alberg Grossman
Beau Ties Ltd of Vermont

Amidst the pain, suffering, anxiety, and loss that this pandemic has caused America and the world, there have been silver linings. Among them: the incredible number of retailers and manufacturers who are now producing personal protective equipment, especially masks. Will Levy at Oak Hall, Mehdi Raad at Maceoo, Carlo Ferretti at Ferretti (fine silk with cotton filters), Shelly Leverenz at Burlington Menswear, the Rubenstein’s in New Orleans, Wendy Thompson at Majestic, Peter Tsihlias at Dion neckwear, Hickey Freeman, Ermenegildo Zegna, the list goes on and on. The best part: most are matching sales with donations to front-line workers, thereby creating jobs for tailors, re-purposing past-season fabric, and saving lives.

Looking ahead, it’s likely that masks will become wardrobe staples in months to come, not just for protection, but also for making personal fashion statements. Online museum exhibits are newly focused on masks; The New York Times Style section recently featured street shots of people wearing interesting masks. So why shouldn’t U.S. retailers start selling fashionable masks as part of their in-stock inventory, marketing, maybe even store windows?

Beau Ties Ltd of Vermont

I recently learned of two makers worth noting. First, check out the matching mask and bowtie sets by Greg Shugar at Beau Ties Ltd. of Vermont, who, in less than an hour, sold out of all 2,000 masks (in 24 different designs.) But fear not: more are on the way. (Greg can be reached at greg@beautiesltd.com.)

Another popular mask is from Alex Kabbaz from customshirt1.com, who worked with two renowned doctors from Montefiore and Georgetown to develop a “doctor’s mask” made from Alumo and Albini shirtings with double interior layers of non-woven particle filter fabric. Says Alex, “When we began making masks on March 24th, our main purpose was to donate to local medical personnel and essential workers. However, clients soon wanted to support us in this endeavor so we’re now selling them.” 

Photo provided by Alex Kabbaz

Alex is sharing his mask-making instructions for those who want to do it themselves.

1] Here are the pattern and materials.
2] Here is the video of how to make them.
3] His suggestion to retailers: Take those slow-selling shirts retailers were going to put on clearance tables in June. Use the pattern, some fusible Pellon, and cut those shirts into parts for face masks. (Alex can be reached at askabbaz@customshirt1.com.)