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NY fashion labels turn to making face masks to fill health care shortages

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NEW YORK fashion designers are offering to produce masks and gowns to help fill the shortage of protective equipment needed to deal with the expanding coronavirus outbreak.

Designer Christian Siriano told Governor Andrew Cuomo on Twitter that his sewing team is available to pitch in after the governor’s plea for protective equipment. Cuomo responded with his own Tweet urging more designers to come forward. The winner of Project Runway’s fourth season posted a video showing a prototype of the mask.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association, an industry trade group, said some members are converting production lines to produce much-needed equipment. It declined to name the companies.

Hedley & Bennett, which makes clothing for chefs and restaurant workers, offered to make face masks and gowns at its 16,000-square-foot facility in Los Angeles. Pamela Barsky, an East Village designer whose tote bags have a cult following, said her small production team could make 500 masks a day.

Recreational sewers are also joining. A family of medical professionals in the Boston area set up a volunteer mask sewing group and received thousands of messages from volunteers. New York-based hobbyists also sprung into action after the governor’s press conference on Friday, taking to Twitter to offer their services.

Some New Yorkers were ahead of the curve. Berchell Egerton, 28, was selling homemade face masks in Union Square for $5 a pop last Saturday. He started selling the colorfully printed cotton masks for $15 a few years ago.




Egerton dropped prices in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Halfway through his stint in Union Square, Egerton had sold 33 masks and was already planning to make P95-style respirator masks as soon as an order of filters arrived. — Bloomberg









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