African Fashion International Unites Against Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down. Besides the obvious fear of contamination and infection, it has caused so many uncertainties. Some of these fester in the pits of our stomachs on a subconscious level; an indescribable feeling of silent anxiety we cannot even properly express. Other questions are on the very surface of everyone’s minds, only no one seems to have factual answers. One of the biggest concerns besides our health, is how to recover the economy, which has taken the most devastating hit since the end of WWII.
We have gone from being a global society with a thriving economy and 24/7 access to instant gratification and into a global recession in a matter of months and, as per usual, those who are suffering the most are small businesses and institutions. Since the lockdown went into effect in most parts of the world at the beginning of March, formerly bustling streets, businesses and tourist destinations have been left deserted; the talk is no longer about ghost towns but a ghost world.
In a bid to support businesses – specifically SMEs – African Fashion International (AFI), has launched an initiative designed to help fashion designers and their respective employees (i.e. seamstresses and patternmakers) and fabric distributors to maintain employment by receiving payment for the production of much-needed public facemasks, all production resources of which are sourced from local suppliers. The project is spearheaded by Roshnee Pillay, Head of Marketing for AFI, and has been running since April.
These 3-ply masks are produced in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Department of Trade and Industry. Made with double polyester fabric on the outside, they feature a mesh backing for moisture absorption, along with a filter. The design elements accommodate both adults and children, as the masks use adjustable ties at the back. Most importantly, these masks are designed with sustainability in mind – they are washable and reusable and therefore, affordable and friendlier on the environment.
In a press release sent out by AFI, Papy Kaluw from Urban Zulu, who is backing this cause, was quoted as saying, ““What motivated Urban Zulu and I personally is that the fashion industry is very much in need of being part of the interventions for our country. We can provide some essential goods required to fight the pandemic which are the masks. For years, we've pleaded for people to buy locally, and now that the country needs the masks it is an opportunity for us to bring in the change that has been spoken about. In addition, we as the textile industry and the fashion industry would also be contributing and doing something to aid the pandemic. My biggest motivation is to be in the forefront and to help minimize the spread of the disease in our local environment and country at large.”
Bulk purchases of the masks have been made available on the AFI online campaign page. “We encourage corporates to support this initiative and procure these general public masks for their employees, as well as their respective CSI initiatives such as youth care centers, elderly homes, schools, universities, crèches, or shelters,” Roshnee Pillay said.
NGO’s are particularly affected by the lockdown and the pandemic in general and are desperately in need of support, financially as well as by ways of facemasks. Recognizing their position, the AFI also features a call for masks and donations on their campaign site; people can donate towards the production of masks for local and national NGOs, which will be distributed by the AFI team.