Local designers sew cloth masks to aid fight against COVID-19
Pictured: Designer and model Sarah Jane Waddell
Fashion designers in Trinidad and Tobago have joined the COVID-19 fight, by creating and distributing dozens of face masks to essential workers, friends and family members.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
But even before this announcement, designers were already at work, sourcing fabric, designing patterns, sewing masks and distributing them across the country.
Fashion designer Charu Lochan Dass has already produced and donated some 400 masks and is currently working on another 400.
Lochan Dass told Loop News that the first batch was distributed through her CLD stores both in Woodbrook and in south Trinidad.
The designer said now that the stores are closed, she will have to figure out a distribution channel that will comply with the stay at home orders by the authorities.
"We’re working on 400 more at the moment and may soon have to start a third batch as the requests are coming in fast and furious," she said.
Lochan Dass said it was her friend who 'planted the seed', when she indicated to her that designers across the globe were producing face masks to donate because of a shortage worldwide.
"I thought to myself that so many people support me and support my business in good times so why not give back in a little way to my clients and to those who still needed to go out to work to serve us in these uncertain times. I’m a designer and the only way I could help or give back was by producing masks and donating to anyone who needed one," she said.
For designer and model Sarah Jane Waddell, the decision to get on board came shortly after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addressed the nation for the first time on the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The former Miss World Trinidad and Tobago said the next day she went to Courts and purchased a sewing machine.
Waddell said she set up a studio at home and taught herself how to sew a few weeks ago on YouTube.
"For me this whole thing just started like lighting. It was inching on me from before but as PM Rowley addressed the nation in the first press conference. That was it! I went out the next day and went to courts and bought a sewing machine. I called my seamstress that night and showed her some online, " she said.
The designer is also promoting the wearing of face masks through an Instagram series titled, "The Mask Culture."
She told Loop News that face masks provide some kind of defense, especially as there can be hidden carriers of the virus among us.
"When the government says to pretend everyone has the virus, they aren’t joking. Because of asymptomatic carriers you could have it, anyone could have it. Masks are a way for us to have some kind of defense for that. Quarantine is one way to freeze the virus by keeping those of us who can be at home, home. Masks are how we can stop it amongst essentials who still have to go out, and us, when we have to do essential things."
As a designer, Waddell said it is about creating special, stylish, intriguing, yet comfortable pieces.
"Point is I want people to see that masks can be beautiful, intriguing, comforting-
something with energy that brightens some dark times. They can also be stylish and above all an accessory that you actually like," she said.
Her masks will be going on sale in a couple days.
It will be done digitally via order form and delivery.
Clothing company Radical Designs is also offering face masks to the public.
The masks are washable, reusable and made from tightly woven jersey fabric.
"Help the nation at this very difficult time.
Visit our factory outlet: (google “Radical Designs Factory Outlet for location) or WhatsApp 788-6403 to get your face mask.
Even as designers turn their attention to mask making, people are also being encouraged to design their own masks fashioned from household items.
This as, the CDC noted a homemade solution is acceptable.
If you have fabric and a sewing machine, there are tutorials and patterns online for making one.
The Ministry of Health will also be distributing masks to members of the public in the coming days.