Facemasks: a new frontier for compliance

| Aug 23, 2020 | BY Seth Lennon

Since the early part of this year, the facemask has become a necessity in line with your keys or purse. With local authorities slowly rolling back restrictions, it is unlikely that we will be discarding these new essentials any time soon.

Let’s take it back to March – the rush was on for everyone to get their hands on as many masks as possible. Shortages were rampant, and people were doing their best to get their hands on as much of this vital equipment as possible. There were delays of days, if not weeks, for people to receive their masks that they had ordered online.

There is a tangible economic impact to wearing facemasks.

Now, flash forward to today, most apparel outlets have a wide selection of these masks available for purchase. Companies are making coverings that feature the branding of sports teams, musical groups, small businesses, and even comic book characters. There is also a growing market for luxury facial coverings, as Burberry now offers a U.S. $118 example. As I said, these items will become part of the human social consciousness for years to come.

However, as with any sewn product, how it is produced and how it gets to the consumer is just as crucial as its intended use.

Several major apparel firms are taking up producing masks, several smaller entities are also entering this business line. Countries as a whole are taking up the production of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to stabilize their economies. For example, Vietnam is citing the focus on PPE as an essential part of its textile industry’s recovery plan.

Face masks have had a continuous place in history, as a means of protection throughout history. But, the attention paid to their production is not equal. The history of these items can be traced back for hundreds of years. But the most reasonable comparison can be made to the 1918 Spanish Flu Outbreak. 

It is easy to say that the attention paid to social compliance in 2020 Is much improved over the care that was paid back in 1918. However, it would be rational to have some level of concern that has to exist that we may have let down our overall guard in the name of safety in a rush to produce these goods. 

And this is the balance we need to strike- statistics make it very clear, facemasks do help curb the spread of COVID-19.  However, the opportunity for exploitation is rampant. Expediency is not an excuse to set aside our principles. The supply chain for any sewn good is delicate. It must be secured and conducted in a manner that encourages transparency and visibility at all stages of the assembly process.

The moral of this story is clear. Please protect you and your loved ones. But also, do not lose sight of protecting the lives of those who assemble these essential items vital to keeping everyone around us safe and free of this virus.


Seth Lennon