Medical research is pointing to the effectiveness of mask wearing in limiting the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Mask requirements are becoming the norm, for indoor shopping and in other public spaces, with mask ordinances in place all over the US.
We are getting used to covering our maw, be it with a paper mask, a bandana, or something more artful. As this becomes normal, it seems like a good time to invest in durable reusable and attractive cloth masks.
At the same time, thousands of companies have pivoted to make and sell masks. Many of them are small businesses, working to survive in these challenging financial times. It’s a win-win, especially when those businesses have more than profit in mind.
The Untours Foundation supports small businesses that create jobs for those who most need them, in the immigrant community, among the formerly incarcerated, or with fair wages for workers abroad. Many of these are also green businesses.
And a number of our Untours Foundation investees happen to produce beautiful masks. Here is a shopping guide to help you stay safe, stylish, and engaged in the issues you care about.
This fashion line tonlé was started by Rachel Faller following her time studying the fashion industry in Cambodia, when she was startled to observe the labor conditions and waste that fueled the industry. The company was the first winner of the UnDreamed Of Award from the Untours Foundation.
Masks – Their tie-on masks are a great way to wear your mask, so that it is always with you and ready to pull up. Their fabrics are soft and comfortable.
Home – Pandemic homebodies may be excited to learn that tonle offers a small line of beautiful handcrafted home goods as well. Afterall, the best way to stay safe is to stay home, right?
tonlé is a zero-waste fashion brand, but really they are a negative waste as they use remnants leftover from the wasteful fast fashion industry. They pay a living wage to their work force in Cambodia.
In 2017, Dr. Kimberly McGlonn launched Grant Blvd, an apparel brand committed to creating employment opportunities in sustainable fashion for the formerly incarcerated in Philadelphia. The company’s various clothing lines provide a beautiful, sustainable alternative to fast fashion.
Masks – Fashion-forward, colorful and stylish elastic ear loop masks made from vintage fabrics. They make a colorful accessory while keeping you safe.
Sets – For the fashionistas, Grant Blvd also offers mask and clothing sets, like stylish blouses and coordinated masks literally cut from the same cloth. Va-va-voom!
Grant Blvd upcycles second-hand textiles to create stylish green fashions, while creating jobs and advocacy for the formerly incarcerated. For each mask purchased, one is donated to a Project HOME, a Philadelphia nonprofit that supports the formerly homeless.
This personal styling service delivers clothing to your door that suits not just your personal fashion and style sense, but the values you hold dear. The sustainable fashion for wearwell is ethically sourced and thoughtfully curated. In the pandemic, they have pivoted to mask making as well.
Masks – All-cotton masks in bright, beautiful colors and patterns, with elastic straps that circle around the back of your head, these masks combine comfort and fashion.
Wearwell focuses on fair trade and female empowerment. These masks are made in Guatemala, using fairly paid labor. For each mask you buy, they will donate a mask to a hospital in need.
This company creates high quality, custom neckties, bowties, pocket squares and lightweight scarves to order. Knotty Tie creates jobs for skilled resettled refugees here in the US. Their products are popular for weddings, though mask making has moved to the heart of what they do.
Masks – By far, Knotty Tie offers the widest range of patterns, with many creative and colorful schemes and themes. There is something for everyone in their collection of masks, which feature pockets for a filter and elastic bands that wrap around the back of the head.
Gaiters – They also offer neck gaiters, comfortable cloth tubes to wear around your neck and pull up as needed. Their lines include a cozy fleece option for winter.
Custom – Knotty Tie also does custom textile masks if you wish to bulk buy.
Knotty Tie partners with Denver-based nonprofit We Made This, which trains and places newly settled refugees in the community.
Stay safe and take care! Happy mask shopping.