Here’s where you can buy fabric face masks that give back to the community
24.08.2020

Here’s where you can buy fabric face masks that give back to the community

Immanuel Dreessens-Owusu wearing Emipeli Designs.
Words by Talia Rinaldo

If you can’t sew one yourself, choose one that does good in your community.

It’s been a couple of weeks now since it was made mandatory for Victorians to wear face masks in public to help combat the rise in our state’s COVID-19 cases, and in that time, we’ve seen an influx of face masks available for purchase.

Though cloth masks won’t provide as much protection as the medical kind our healthcare workers need, wearing any form of face covering whenever you’re in close contact with others, like at the supermarket or while at work, does significantly reduce the risk, and in turn, will slow the virus’ spread.

If you’re anything like us and the thought of DIY makes your skin crawl, there are plenty of face coverings available locally, thanks to all our regional creatives spending their time sewing for the greater good (you can find a whole bunch here).

If you’re looking to expand that ever-growing mask collection, while also making a difference, there are a number of local not-for-profits, social enterprises and other independent businesses that are giving back to the community with each mask sold. Here are some of our favourites.

The Type 1 Foundation
The Type 1 Foundation is a not-for-profit that supports individuals and families living with Type 1 Diabetes who are also selling face masks online.

Handmade by a Type1 Mum, these masks are washable and reusable, made with four layers of cotton as the lining as per the VIC health guidelines and the water resistant fabric gives you more protection than a standard fabric one and you can add a filter if you desire. The masks are available in black and can be purchased online via their merch store.

100% of proceeds go back to supporting Type1 individuals and families with programs, awareness and support.

You can purchase the face mask here.

Cotton On/Typo
A Geelong institution, Cotton On’s Face Masks are a great option if you’re looking for the convenience of purchasing online, while still supporting a great cause with 100 percent of proceeds raised from the sale going to their in-house charity, contributing to empowering youth through quality education and access to healthcare, including vaccinations, pre and antenatal care, the distribution of mosquito nets to prevent malaria, and HIV treatment and prevention.

Made from cotton, each mask fits comfortably with adjustable elastic straps. These masks are tested to a KN90 standard and filter at least 90% of airborne particles down to pm2.5, and they come in a range of different designs and colours. You can purchase one for $9.99 or three for $25. You simply can’t go wrong.

You can find them online here.

SisterWorks
If you haven’t heard of them before, SisterWorks is a not-for-profit organisation supporting female refugees, asylum seekers and migrants by providing work and empowerment through commerce. The group operates hubs in Bendigo, Richmond and Dandenong where women can attend a range of programs, all focused on learning by doing.

With hubs forced to close due to lockdowns, the group began creating masks so that its community, one of the most vulnerable in Australia, could still earn an income. The masks are made from home, keeping sisters employed while social distancing.

Made from donated cotton fabric and loose-weave muslin, with a pocket to insert extra layers, or a filter, these masks are available in a range of designs for both men and women. 50% of the profits goes directly to the migrant, refugee or asylum seeker Sister that has made the mask.

You can buy them online here.

HoMie
We’ve only just come across Melbourne-based streetwear brand HoMie (Homelessness Of Melbourne Incorporated Enterprise) and we’re loving what they’re about. Starting out in 2015, HoMie is about breaking down the stigma associated with homelessness and those experiencing it rough on the streets.

Usually slinging stylish garments and creating seriously cool collaborations, they’re now selling super-clean faces masks, with 100% of profits going towards supporting people affected by homelessness or hardship. The HoMie facemasks feature two protective layers with 320gsm of filtration, made up of high-performance 100% polyester interlock fabric.

Alongside the donation of profits, for every HoMie facemask purchased, the crew will supply one to a person affected by homelessness or hardship.

Check it all out here.

The Social Studio
Since the start of the pandemic, Collingwood-based not-for-profit The Social Studio has been working alongside the Victorian government to make PPE Medical Scrubs and reusable cloth face masks for community members at cost price.

Designed in accordance with DHHS guidelines, these masks feature three layers of breathable, machine washable fabrics to ensure adequate protection. Layer one is a soft and comfortable 100% cotton fabrication, the middle layer is a non-woven polyester/cotton blend fabrication which acts as a filter against nasty particles, and the outer layer is a water-resistant polyester fabrication which repels droplets and particles. Available in various colours and patterns across two sizes, they’ve also got soft and comfortable elastic which can be adjusted by re-knotting for the perfect fit over the ears.

Better still, these masks are partly made using upcycled fabrics donated by TSS supporters in the local textile industry AND all proceeds from mask sales will go directly back into The Social Studio’s work to provide skill development, training, and employment opportunities for new migrant and refugee communities.

You can purchase them via www.thesocialstudio.org

Alperstein Designs
Using some pretty amazing fabrics, this company has created a range of Australian made 100% cotton face masks featuring beautiful Aboriginal Artwork. With one size suited to all, there’s a filter pocket on the inside of the mask and using the adjustable nose wire, you can adjust the mask for a close fit to your face. Elastic loops fit around your ears to hold the mask in place.

The royalties from these products directly benefit the artists and their communities which is just as beautiful as the stunning designs.

Visit www.alpersteindesigns.com.au

Emipeli Designs
You might recognise the name from recent media surrounding Emipeli Designs campaign for her fashionable denim jackets with fidget objects to help relieve nervous energy, anxiety or stress. Prior to her journey into this, the Geelong designer began by selling handmade face masks, upcycled clothing, paintings and other little things.

With the current demand for face masks sweeping Victoria, you’ll now be able to purchase Emipeli Designs face masks once more. While Emily unfortunately didn’t reach her kickstarter fundraising goal, she hasn’t given up and every cent of profit will be going toward investment for her sensory denim jackets.

You can buy a mask here.

Third Chapter via Barwon Health Foundation
Created by Geelong-based global streetwear label Third Chapter, these non-medical face masks are super trendy, really comfortable and they comply with health standards. Supplying councils, hospitals and government departments in Australia and the US, the label has managed to provide large shipments to the Barwon Health Foundation, who exists to create and nurture philanthropic partnerships between the community and Barwon Health.

Available via the Barwon Health Foundation website, these masks are three layers. The outer layer and middle layer are water resistant while the inner layer (closest to face) is water absorbent, low allergy 100% cotton and breathable.

Third Chapter masks are made to be washed after a day’s use, and are said to be effective for 20-30 washes.

Funds from each mask purchased via the Barwon Health Foundation will go towards the purchase of equipment and medical facilities, helping enhance patient comfort and care, medical research and scholarships undertaken by Barwon Health, vital capital campaigns and the support the wellbeing of our health care workers.

You can purchase here.

For more information on face masks, visit the Department of Health and Human Services or World Health Organisation website.

Be safe Forte fam.