Taking its cue from its international counterparts, the South African fashion industry is evolving to meet the needs of living under lockdown conditions. The deficit of masks, in particular, has afforded fashion retailers an invaluable opportunity to not only to stay relevant – which is financially critical – but also to be of service to the community.
Milliner Crystal Birch, for instance, is deviating from the norm to produce a range of fabric face masks, as well as protective shield visors with transparent panels which cover the eyes, nose and mouth.
Sandy Rogers, a designer in Johannesburg’s Victoria Yards, has been making face masks on behalf of Goodbye Malaria, which is donating them to the Solidarity Fund and to Nando’s, to protect its employees.
Polo South Africa recently pledged to provide 250,000 face masks which are being provided to at-risk commuters and essential-service providers. Polo is using its shirt factory in Atlantis, Cape Town, to generate these (rather stylish) cotton masks. Like the others, they are not medical grade but they are washable and reusable and can help prevent people spreading infection and from touching their noses and mouths in the course of travel.
Indie brands The Watermelon Social Club and Klipa Denim are doing their bit by producing face masks for employees, customers and, hopefully, for hospital staff in the future. ERRE fashion, a local luxe favourite, is making a range of masks, as well as producing scrubs for nurses in a collaborative venture with designers Isabel de Villiers and Jacques Bam.