ACTIONS. DUST MASKS! LOVE.
What on earth is going on right now? How can we help?
Actions. Dust Masks! Love.
Hello lovely world.
I hope everyone is doing ok right now. It's so nice to see the positive love and support coming through, but I know first hand that this all can still feel incredibly overwhelming for many us. As a business owner, it's been difficult not to feel paralysed these past couple of weeks. It seems like so long ago we were planning and hosting our first ever independent show. As great as it was, it's paled in comparison to what is now a worldwide reality. We don't know when or how to launch the collection and business times are tough. So what to do? Read on, or watch me chat about it instead.
In fashion sustainability circles, we often hear about "less talk, more action". Right now, I have been feeling that sentiment weigh heavily on me. What IS the action we can take right now? Well I am looking at my hands and my team's, the skills we possess, the capabilities we have. One thing that seems abundantly clear, with the worldwide shortage of PPE (that's personal protective equipment, to you) for our front line medical staff, is that we need to have better contingencies to manufacture things LOCALLY. I have been an advocate for local manufacturing for my entire career, so it seems insane that we can't make this stuff ourselves. In saying that, I have been overwhelmed with admiration for the select fashion and apparel companies in the US and UK who stepped up to help make things like masks and gowns at this time of crisis, despite a lack of standards or guidance.
At A.BCH, we have put our hand up to help manufacture PPE or any sort of face/body protections that we possibly can and are waiting on the Australian government for next steps and to help us to transition to PPE manufacturing, if that is what is needed. We've already developed 2 dust mask prototypes that, based on research by Cambridge University, should filter out at least 50% of virus particles (perhaps more given the mask coverage), however we are NOT going to start mass manufacturing these until we get a green light that this is what is needed in the community. We WILL however be manufacturing these in small quantities to be used by our production staff as they are highly effective dust masks in the factory! Note: Masks can actually be more dangerous when it comes to viral infection, if not put on, worn or washed properly and I am acutely aware of the misinformation floating around the internet right now. So, read on...
The most helpful research done in regards to mask materials when there is no medical grade materials available has been put together best by Smart Air Filters. It concludes that t-shirt jersey or even a pillowcase is the most effective, while breathable, material to make masks from in a pinch. A quick search of the internet for DIY masks will give you an insight into how badly people are wanting these masks, even for a little protection when ducking out for a grocery shop.
A.BCH Dust Mask Initiative (2 ways to get your mask)
We have decided to help at the grassroots level, until we get further word from government on what they need from us most. So we are offering up our mask design to those in our community. Here are the two ways to access your mask:
1. Buy something. With every single A.BCH online order, we will automatically send you a gifted dust mask to help you get through, plus, when you order from us, you are doing the thing we need the most to help keep us in business and keep our machinists working (each wearing their own dust mask while doing so). Each dust mask will come with a digital instruction manual of how to put on, wear and launder it for best possible outcomes. Important: We are not claiming this is a replacement for a N95 respirator or surgical mask - which is what medical professionals need right now. However, getting more of these masks out into the community may help non-front line service people to donate hoardings of N95 and surgical masks to hospitals or might stop people from buying them who don't actually need them. If used correctly, it is a perfectly decent way to protect a socially isolating individual's brief activities/encounters (and considering, due to the shortages, the CDC is instructing nurses to use a bandana or scarf as it is better than nothing). Heard enough and ready to shop? Start here.
2. Make your own. If you aren't in the position to place an order and want to make you own A.BCH dust mask, we are open sourcing our pattern. This is a beautifully designed, face fitting yet comfortable and breathable mask that you can create from t-shirt material (aka jersey), easily found in online fabric stores (or from your already owned 100% cotton t-shirts!) that should last over a bunch of washes (though we haven't had enough time to test exactly how many, get in touch if you want to help us with testing).
Download pattern + instructions here → A.BCH 2 Ply T-Shirt Dust Mask Pattern
Preview of the A.BCH Dust Mask – Open Sourced Pattern
Why did we design it the way we did?
– Research above suggests that 100% cotton t-shirt or pillowcase material is the next best material to use when medical grade material is unavailable or needed elsewhere
– Most people will have a pillowcase or quality t-shirt lying around that can be used in a pinch
– No elastic means that this reusable dust mask can be washed at 60 degrees over and over (otherwise the elastic would deteriorate very quickly and is only really suitable for single use masks)
– The dust mask has to be comfortable AND breathable AND protective, the A.BCH dust mask is the right balance of each of these things - there is no point in making a super protective mask from vacuum cleaner bags only to find you can't take a breath once wearing it
Love what we're up to? Got some thoughts, feedback or suggestions? Send us a message.