Despite the resistance towards masks from some Calgarians, local companies like Legal Hustle Clothing, and Local Laundry are creating masks that are both functional and fashionable.
When Calgary began its lockdown in March, local designers began producing masks to fill the high demands across the city. Albert Mejia, the founder of Legal Hustle Clothing (LHC), saw an opportunity to help the community, and to make facemasks that were unique to his company.
“I personally wasn’t feeling the masks that were out there so I decided to make my own and put the LHC brand on it,” said Mejia, “None of my mask use elastics bands or garters. I figured out how to make my masks using a paracord and a buckle. All of our masks are made from our own blank shirts, and everything is cut and sewn all by hand.”
As each wave of masks crossed his work station, Mejia grew with the needs of his clients. What began as wave one, a two-layer fashion mask shortly advanced to wave two, a three-layer fashion mask with a pocket for filters to be inserted into.
“[This] keeps our clients safe and styled all in one,” He added.
Legal Hustle Clothing was not the only company to see an opportunity to help the community during the pandemic. Kathleen Smiley, community relations manager for Local Laundry, explained that their number one goal is to support and build within everything they do.
“We saw an opportunity when our manufacturer started making PPE garments. Masks became a vehicle for us to keep the Canadians who make them employed, to give back and to continue donating $3 from every mask sold to the City of Calgary and United Way’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. [And] with help from our other vehicles, the Bamboo Healthcare Garments and the support of our amazing customers and community members, we’ve been able to donate over $20,000 to the COVID-19 Relief Fund!” Exclaimed Smiley.
Even though the creation of these masks was due to the presence of the Coronavirus, neither Legal Hustle Clothing nor Local Laundry sees them as a current trend, but more of a natural response, also taking into consideration the long history associated with facemasks.
Since at least the 1950’s, facemasks (medical and non-medical) have played a role in Asian countries such as China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. The purposes for these masks range from fashionable streetwear to protecting individuals against pollution and slowing the spread of respiratory diseases such as SARS and COVID 19.
On July 21, 2020, Calgary council has made a new bylaw making it mandatory for Calgarians to wear facemasks indoors in all public areas and vehicles as of August 1st. This decision came about due to the increase in cases of COVID 19 within the province, and the city.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that when used properly, facemasks help to slow the spread of COVID 19 by reducing the amount of respiratory droplets individuals release into the air.
Since the CDC put out a call for masks to be worn worldwide, brands like Bel-Air Athletics, Fashion Nova, and Skims have marketed three-piece outfits that include facemasks to make a statement that they are not only functional but can be fashionable as well. Legal Hustle Clothing also had a similar idea that has already gone over well with the public.
“I’ve released a couple tees and masks that match, and those have sold out a few months back. As of right now, I have been piecing them together with ‘fits. We also have a new mask coming out after I do more testing with it,” said Mejia.
While Local Laundry says they are currently selling facemasks by themselves in sets of 2, 3, 6 and 12, they add that they think masks alone will continue to sell.
“We believe more people will use non-medical masks as part of their daily routine and a regular garment for their daily outfits and outings, especially within scenarios where people can’t socially distance,” Smiley said.
As shopping, and supporting local businesses is often advised, Smiley explained how people gain a lot more from buying local than from big-name brands; including the chance to support Canadian small businesses, and any other small businesses within that supply chain, as well as knowing that what you’re buying is going to be made with care and quality.
“Our Canadian-made non-medical face masks are double-layered, ultra-soft and made with 100% cotton. With one size fits most design, our masks offer two ear loops, and a contoured shape to fit all faces, plus they’re comfortable and breathable! Washable, reusable, and Canadian-made.”
Mejia added that it is up to the local companies to put out quality pieces of work within the community.
“That’s the type of vibe that should be put on for the city. But at the same time put quality [items] out regardless of what your business or talent is, don’t just drop something for the sake of hoping to be some famous influencer or something. This city breeds greatness, let’s show the world.”
Be sure to check out Local Laundry (@locallaundry) and Legal Hustle Clothing (@legalhustleclothing) and order some facemasks. Stay safe.