Uniqlo to sell comfortable face masks using same fabric it uses for underwear

May 26, 2020

WITH face masks an inevitable part of the new normal, you’ll certainly be seeing them in a lot of your favorite retailers. In fact, you’re probably looking for a comfortable and practical set right now.

If you can wait a little longer, fast fashion retailer Uniqlo is going to debut a line of face masks for its summer season collection; that is, June to September.

The masks will be made from AIRism, the brand’s moisture-wicking, heat-releasing, and sweat-absorbing fabric. According to marketing materials, the stretchy fabric is also quick-drying and repels odors.

Uniqlo uses AIRism in several lines of underwear for both men and women, including boxer briefs. It also uses the versatile fabric in shirts, hoodies, jackets, leggings, active wear, and loungewear. According to Nikkei Asian Review, the line is popular around the world — total AIRism sales are estimated at almost 100 million units globally.

The Japanese brand has not released any designs for its masks, but they will sell in both its brick-and-mortar stores and its e-commerce stores for “under a few thousand yen,” said Tadashi Yanai, chairman and CEO of Uniqlo’s parent firm Fast Retailing, to Nikkei. (One thousand yen is around P470.)

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In late March, Fast Retailing directed Uniqlo factories in China to produce 10 million masks, which the company donated to hospitals in the US, Italy, and Japan. You can see the masks in Uniqlo's COVID-19 response page here.

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The highest grade of mask it donated, the "high-performance three-dimensional mask" features a non-woven fabric and passes standards of ASTM International for filtering fine particles. The three-dimensional mask is one of the two variants it produced.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, Fast Retailing was initially ambivalent about selling face masks commercially, but "changed its mind after many customers asked for them."

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