Viral Social Distancing Hat Raises Funds Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a number of fashion brands are pitching in to help with COVID-19 relief efforts, including a few new entrants that are leveraging the global crisis to do some good.

Enter Social Distancing Hat, a fund-raising initiative launched two weeks ago that’s giving a nod to the now well-known phrase experts have been using to help stop the spread of the virus. The hat, which comes in black, white and tan, sells for $29.99 with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting Meals on Wheels, which delivers food to elderly people impacted by COVID-19 across the country.

“I was watching the news and reading different things on social media and things were not looking so well for the country,” said Matthew Rudin, the initiative’s creator, during a phone interview from San Francisco. “I felt kind of powerless and thought I could do something using the Internet to try to help.”

Rudin, who works in social media and doesn’t come from a fashion background, decided on the hats as a “sort of fun and ironic way” to keep spreading the message of social distancing, while benefiting a charity that’s helping individuals impacted by the virus.

Social Distancing Hat has sold roughly 850 hats since launch, which has translated to $8,000 to $9,000 in proceeds going to Meals on Wheels.

“A lot of older people right now are obviously trapped in their homes,” Rudin continued. “Meals on Wheels is a great service that’s giving those people one daily interaction, but also giving them the food they need to survive.”

As Rudin has received more interest in the Social Distancing Hat, he introduced a style on March 25, this time honoring the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“Dr. Fauci is giving what feels like an honest report on what’s happening in the country,” he said on the $32 “Faucci” hat, which is a play on Gucci’s logo. “People on both sides of the aisle feel like he’s the voice of reason, so I thought another hat would capture that cultural moment. Fauci sort of looks like Gucci. Put an extra ‘c’ and stylize it like the Gucci logo and all of a sudden you have something that elevates Dr. Fauci to being a fashion icon.”

Rudin is working with a manufacturing facility in North Carolina to produce and ship the hats worldwide. He says he’s received orders from customers in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Germany and the U.K. in addition to the U.S.

While Rudin has received requests to expand the initiative’s apparel offerings, he says Social Distancing Hat will likely exclusively offer hats.

“It’s easier to stand out when you have a singular product,” he said. “Dad hats are in right now. They show the message clearly and they’re a cute and fun way to support the cause.”

Rudin also doesn’t see Social Distancing Hat continuing post-COVID-19 pandemic, unless the initiative really takes off.

“This will never be a full-time thing for me,” he said. “It was merely like, a lot of people feel hopeless right now, so what can I do to help? This felt like an easy thing I could do to give back.”

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