Genteel & Vintara Fashion Brands Collaborate to create stylish, hygienic, re-usable masks in response to COVD19
Along with the despair and fear COVID19 carries, it has also conversely brought a sense of community and solidarity. Many people are joining forces to see how they can combine their resources to fight off this virus and its subsequent onslaught and keep themselves and their communities safe and sane. Some of these people include designers of the brands Genteel and Vintara, who are part of the British Council’s Creative DNA Fashion incubation program in partnership with Metta and Fashion Scout UK.
Genteel is a menswear brand and Vintara, an accessories brand. They both share a desire to use their products as a vehicle through which to celebrate Kenya’s cultural heritage and they have now come together in the pursuit to protect their communities. On combing together, they note: “two different brands with different strengths will be able to reach the goal of getting the masks to as many people as possible. The fact that we also use ethnocentric fabric made it easier to work on something we both believe in.”
The brands have partnered to produce a range of reusable masks, in adherence with the Ministry of Health and KEBS certification standards. They have created 3 different options all retailing at 1000kes each: the first is a box of 4 adult masks, the second a box of 5 ‘kiddy’ masks and the third a mixed box combining 2 adult masks and 3 ‘kiddy’ masks. Each of these masks is reusable and has a life span of 3 months. They feature an outer layer made from Ankara fabric and an inner from 100% cotton with a space to insert a removable filter made from non-woven polypropylene, which they also provide within the boxes with the option of 10 additional ones being bought at 100 Kenyan shillings.
On Thursday 30th April 2020, the two Fashion brands were live on Facebook to talk about how they are dealing with the pandemic (COVID19) and their innovative spin on traditional facemasks
The current availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not only scarce but also expensive. Many Kenyans are unable to access masks. The surgical masks are single-use and are also expensive. For every box of masks sold, Vintara and Genteel are donating one mask to a member of their community within Kibera. They have chosen this as the area with which to focus on as this is where their workshop is based meaning that most of their artisans live within the community and subsequently play a key role in the distribution of these masks. Additional to the social aspect, environmentally, single-use PPE serve as a great threat to the environment. The increased use and distribution of multi-wear masks will subsequently offset a large amount of this threat. Ultimately, through providing the general public with a protective, multi-use mask, there is less strain placed on medical-grade PPE that is in incredibly short supply and needed most by the healthcare workers on the frontlines.
EAST AFRICA ARTS PROMOTES NEW ART, SHARES SKILLS OF CREATIVES AND IGNITES PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN THE UK AND EAST AFRICA (KENYA, UGANDA, TANZANIA, RWANDA, ETHIOPIA, SUDAN, SOUTH SUDAN).
Going forward, it is expected that masks will become the new normal, and thus having an accessible, fashionable option is essential. The designers note: “Masks will no longer just be worn for health and safety reasons but will be part of our attire…It would be sad if you had an amazing attire then have a surgical mask on that ruins the whole outfit.” As we move into a new normal, it’s important that brands are able to quickly adapt to the changing needs of a confused population facing an uncertain future. Masks will be part of the new normal but so too will be differences in how brands go about their business, adding to this the designers of Genteel and Vintara iterate “We foresee a future laden with a lot of collaboration. As resources become hard to come by, brands will be forced to pool the meagre treasures left to ensure continuity. This will subsequently breed higher quality and foster more creativity as artists will be forced to be innovative in ways never thought of before”.