Michael Costello with a face mask that he designed. Image courtesy Michael Costello

Michael Costello with a face mask that he designed. Image courtesy Michael Costello

Trading Fashion For Face Masks, Designers Respond to Coronavirus

The fashion business has ground to a halt because of the Coronavirus epidemic. But fashion designers and apparel manufacturers responded to the pandemic by changing their game. They answered news accounts of face mask shortages by designing face coverings for the public, medical workers and first responders.

Designers and businesses answering this call range from players in the T-shirts and basics industry such as AST Sportswear/Bayside Apparel in Brea, Calif. to red carpet designers such as Michael Costello, who is based in downtown Los Angeles.

Costello has been working with a network of sewers who work from their homes to make protective face masks. He plans to donate to L.A. County hospitals and first responders. In the upcoming week, he intends to work with a manufacturer to make 20,000 cotton-nylon blend masks.

“Since announcing on social media that we would be making these masks, my inbox has exploded with requests from people in need in L.A. County,” Costello said. “The main point we want to get across with this is not about exposure, press or likes. If we can’t do what we love, which is making evening gowns, then we’ll do what we can.”


Jodie Dolan in her brand's face mask. Image courtesy Dolan

The Los Angeles-headquartered Dolan brand also will donate more than 400 masks to people working in food banks and family- owned grocery stores, said Kate Anlyan, Dolan’s global brand director. Dolan is financing face mask production through donations. “Our retailers are closed right now. So producing these masks gives our sewers work while offering people still serving the community with some level of protection. It's a win-win. The goal is to help as many people as we can. We’re all in this together,” Anlyan said.

Emerging designers such as Manuel Jackson of Thread Haus and Odain Watson of Odaingerous also have been making masks to sell to the public and to donate to those who need them.

“The industry is at a standstill, but we can be proactive,” Watson said. “Let’s all help out.”


Odaingerous masks. Image courtesy Odaingerous

There’s also a surge in demand for face mask in the general public, said Lilian Raven, a sewing contractor who also designs fashion labels Lilian Raven Clothing and Lemonade Millionaires. “The people who ordered hats and bags, now they’re ordering ski masks,” she said of her work flow.

Designers also have offered help to the do-it-yourself crowd.

Art inspired designer Ashton Michael, who is a contestant on the Netflix reality show Next In Fashion, posted a face mask pattern on his Instagram profile @Ashtonmichael. Those wanting to make their own masks, can check out this pattern.

For more information on Dolan brand face masks, made out of double-layered breathable fabric, visit Intagram profile @shopdolan Anlyan asked for donations to be sent to PaylPal at Kate@dolan-group.com

For more information on Thread Haus masks, contact mannyjstyle@gentscloset.com or @mannyjstyle

For more information on Odaingerous, contact info@odaingerous.com

For more information on Costello masks or to make donations, contact xixi@shopcostello.com


Thread Haus masks. Image courtesy Thread Haus