MASKED CRUSADERS: As the French government detailed on Monday how it plans to ramp up mask production in preparation for lifting coronavirus restrictions, sustainable initiative Paris Good Fashion launched a call for volunteers to donate fabric and sew masks.
Swedish fast-fashion group Hennes & Mauritz AB is the first major industry player to provide fabric supplies for the “Masque Solidaire” project, launched by writer Alexandre Jardin, with the aim of providing free fabric masks to the people who need them the most.
French classifieds web site Leboncoin is relaying a call for individual fabric donations, while retailers Monoprix, Intermarché and Netto have volunteered to distribute the masks to people who register on the masquesolidaire.fr site, with the poorest and most at-risk taking priority.
Department store chain Galeries Lafayette, which is expected to reopen its stores when the French lockdown is lifted on May 11, has also pledged to distribute masks.
Paris Good Fashion is asking volunteer seamstresses to produce masks according to the reference document developed by the AFNOR Group, which designs and deploys solutions based on voluntary standards around the world. Tutorials and patterns are available on the AFNOR web site.
The “Masque Solidaire” initiative, which is endorsed by the French government, aims to produce 25 million masks by mid-May, when the country will gradually go back to work.
Meanwhile, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Secretary of State for Economy and Finance, on Monday detailed the measures France is taking to become more self-sufficient in surgical masks.
The government expects to boost domestic production of surgical masks to 20 million per week by the end of May, versus 3.5 million per week before the COVID-19 outbreak. It will also encourage new companies to begin production, which it expects to reach 50 million masks per week by October.
Since March 30, the French textile industry has produced an additional 41 million masks for use by the general public.
Thanks to production gains and imports, fashion companies expect to provide 26 million of these masks, most of which can be used up to 20 times, this week alone, with output rising to 38 million per week by mid-May.