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Apparel companies around the industry turn their attention to making face masks for those in need. 
Apparel companies around the industry turn their attention to making face masks for those in need. (Image: Adobe Stock)

Apparel Companies Pivot to Address Face Mask Shortage


Apparel companies around the industry turn their attention to making face masks for healthcare workers, government agencies, and those in need. 

In Brea, California, AST Sportswear Inc. pledges to use its manufacturing facility to produce and donate health masks to U.S. hospitals facing shortages. The company, which manufactures apparel under the Bayside brand, also plans to utilize its own 100% cotton fabric it sources in the U.S. to produce the masks.

AST Sportswear’s chief operating officer Abdul Rashid states, “After learning about the drastic shortages of masks in hospitals, and hearing that some health care professionals started putting together make-shift masks out of little pieces of paper, I knew it was our responsibility as a community to help those on the frontlines helping our fellow Americans.” 

The apparel manufacturer plans to go into production immediately using fabric resources originally designated for apparel, and prioritizing labor to producing masks for those in dire need. 

In an Instagram post, Los Angeles Apparel, Dov Charney’s current apparel venture, announces an “urgent message to government agencies.” The apparel company says this is a time for U.S. companies to “step up and assist in combating this crisis.” To do this, Los Angeles Apparel says its workforce and management team of 450-plus people will “produce masks or medical products for any government agency.”

According to The New York Times, the apparel manufacturer is making surgical masks and hospital gowns, and Charney expects his 150,000-square-foot factory can manufacture 300,000 masks and 50,000 gowns in one week.

The company encourages municipal, state, or federal agencies to reach out if they need textile or sewing product production. For those in need, direct message the company’s Instagram account or text Dov Charney at 213-923-7943.

In a separate announcement by the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), the organization says a coalition of brands including Los Angeles Apparel and AST have “come together to build a supply chain virtually overnight,” and fast-track the manufacturing of facemasks. The NCTO says other companies joining the effort include SanMar Corporation, HanesBrands, Fruit of the Loom, America Knits, American Giant, Beverly Knits, and Riegel Linen. Once fully ramped up, the NCTO says it projects the coalition to produce as many as 10 million facemasks per week in the U.S. and Central America. The organization encourages companies interested in dedicating resources to the cause email them at kellis@ncto.org

Hanes says its supply chains and product development teams produced technical product specifications, including product chemistry, and samples of 3-ply cotton masks in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that were then approved by the FDA. Those patterns and specifications were then shared with the other apparel companies in the coalition. 

Hanes is using cotton yarn spun from its partner Parkdale Mills America. The yarn is then used in its textile manufacturing facilities in El Salvador and the Dominican Republic to make cotton fabric for the masks. 

SanMar says in a press release that masks will go to the federal government to then distribute to hospitals, health care workers, and other battling COVID-19. President of SanMar, Jeremy Lott, was prompted to take action after an employee told him that her son, an EMT, isn’t equipped to help patients. “She said they don’t have masks and have been advised to wear bandanas, and she is worried about him,” says Lott. “That really hit me. We want to do whatever we can do support these efforts.”

SanMar is working to produce masks and many of the textiles in its manufacturing plants in Tennessee and Central America to support the sewing operations across the coalition. The group expects deliveries to start the week of March 30.

In Broomfield, Colorado, Xtreme Pro Apparel manufacturers antimicrobial fabric for wrestling singlets. According to upnewsinfo.com, the company saw a need after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke about the lack of masks for healthcare workers. 

In a Facebook post, Xtreme Pro Apparel announces, “With the shortages of face masks in the community and around the U.S., Xtreme Pro has designed a face mask that is produced with premium antimicrobial moisture management fabric. Our masks are double layered for maximum protection and washable for reuse. Xtreme Pro offers two sizes in the mask, one for youth and one for adults.” Ten percent of all proceeds from the masks will go to hospitals in need. 

In a press release, Founder Sport Group says part of its facilities are committed to producing performance activity masks (PAMs) and inspirationally-messaged T-shirts with 100% of all net proceeds from the sale of both products going to All Clear Foundation. The foundation is a 501c3 organization devoted to improving the life expectancy and wellbeing of all first responders.

The apparel company utilizes cutting and sewing capabilities in North Carolina and Nicaragua for the production of PAMs, which are meant for active individuals who need to go on public outings. Additionally, the apparel company offers T-shirts decorated with the message: The Best Offense is a Good Defense. Both products are available at www.foundersport.com.

New York-based clothing manufacturer and promotional products supplier FPS Apparel has also shifted operations to assist with the growing shortage of face masks and hospital gowns. The company is using fabric previously used for T-shirts and other apparel to create face masks. “The masks are not medical grade, but according to the CDC, anything helps if you can’t get your hands on a real mask,” says the company. FPS plans on donating a portion of the masks while also offering them for sale. Custom options are also available. Go to www.fpsapparel.com for more information. 

Tultex, an apparel brand under TSC Apparel, is also redirecting its efforts to produce face masks for the healthcare industry amid the shortage. According to Tultex, adapting operations and helping out where needed isn’t something new to the brand. 

“Since 1935, we have been stepping up to help our country in times of crisis,” Debbie Gonzalez, VP of merchandising and brand management at TSC Apparel and Tultex says. “Our brand was an official supplier of sweatshirts to the U.S. Army during World War II.”

Production will begin immediately, and the company believes it will produce 1 to 2 million masks per week. Tultex will primarily be supporting healthcare professionals, hospitals, nursing homes, and frontline workers. The product will also be available to consumers. Please note, these masks are not medical-grade.

“When we heard the countless stories of healthcare professionals working with patients without masks or desperately trying to reuse them, we knew we had to step in and help,” Dave Klotter, CEO of TSC Apparel says. “Our social responsibility is to work to provide solutions and keep our TSC associates working.” For more information, visit www.tscapparel.com.

If your apparel company has shifted to producing masks or other medical products, please reach out to Allee Bruce at

Got a news tip? Contact Alexandria Bruce