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Fashion Designers Are Struggling to Make Masks. Here’s Why.



For some designers working on their own, the lack of consensus was exasperating. “We should have a centralized voice,” says Naomi Mishkin, the Brooklyn-based designer of the line Naomi Nomi, who spent the weekend working with her manufacturing partners in the Garment District to identify the best materials and design for a mask. “If the [government] wants to lead the way, we should let them, but we’re waiting.”

Even in the best of worlds, most fashion designers lack the supplies and manufacturing capabilities required to make N95 respirators. Named for their ability to block 95 percent of micron test particles through a seal around the nose and mouth, they are the preferred masks for medical workers treating patients with the virus—and remain in alarmingly short supply. Industrial manufacturers have stepped up to address the deficiency. Earlier this week, Honeywell announced that they would increase production of N95 masks, with the manufacturer planning to hire about 500 people in the next week, and last week, 3M said it had doubled production over the last two months. The United States Department of Health and Human Services intends to place an order for 500 million of these masks, which they say will be delivered to hospitals over the next 18 months.

As for the mass production of surgical masks, a consortium of garment-manufacturing companies, led by Parkdale Mills America, the North Carolina–based yarn manufacturer, is partnering with Hanes and the federal government to retrofit their factory facilities to begin mask production. They are expected to turn out five to six million masks per week.

Europe’s fashion and manufacturing industries have been quicker to respond to their own mask shortages: Kering, Prada, and LVMH have announced plans to manufacture or purchase masks. But in the United States, it is hard to identify an equivalent fashion conglomerate with access to an extensive network of factories. Nor have the major U.S. fashion brands stepped up (aside from L.L.Bean, which has partnered with a local Maine foodbank), as New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman pointed out. Mishkin explains that a number of designers she has spoken with have been unable to join the mask-production movement because they have no domestic manufacturing, instead relying on samples and production manpower in China; only about 3 percent of clothing sold in America is manufactured here. Ralph Lauren, for example, makes much of its clothing in Italy and China, and Tommy Hilfiger also manufactures its clothing abroad. “I would love to make everything in America if I could find the factories,” Hilfiger told Bloomberg in 2017. “They don’t exist here in America.”

And so the fashion brands producing the masks are, for the most part, more modestly staffed businesses with domestic manufacturing connections. Guided only by the CDC’s rudimentary instructions, they find themselves struggling to source materials from the often unfamiliar vendors who sell these industrial, or medical-grade, fabrics. “For masks, you really should be using some sort of nonwoven fabric,” explains Gabrielle Ferrara, a partner in Ferrara Manufacturing, a Garment District firm founded by her parents in 1987 that is one of the largest high-end women’s clothing factories in the United States, according to its website, and is now making masks. “Cotton, for example, doesn’t have the filtration properties that maybe polyester or maybe some of the nonwovens might have.” But, she notes, it’s hard for fashion companies to get ahold of those fabrics. “They’re not really from your typical fashion vendors. We need to do a little more work collectively to get those materials because they’re not part of the regular fashion ecosystem.”


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How O.C.D. and Hand-Washing and Coronavirus Collide



The coronavirus outbreak has turned many of us into nervous germophobes, seeking to protect ourselves from infection by washing our hands methodically and frequently, avoiding unnecessary contact with so called high-touch surfaces and methodically sanitizing packages, our homes and our bodies.

For people diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or O.C.D., the worry created by the threat of coronavirus has the potential for more intense and longer-lasting implications.

According to the International OCD Foundation, there are about three million Americans who have been diagnosed with O.C.D. It’s a condition characterized by unwanted thoughts or urges that generate high levels of anxiety and repetitive acts meant to neutralize the obsessional thought.

The cleaning and sanitizing practices that help prevent coronavirus infection are bringing people with O.C.D. into closer orbit to behaviors that are a gateway to detrimental patterns that could interfere with their ability to engage meaningfully with the world outside their homes for years to come.

Courtenay Patlin, a 28-year-old in Los Angeles, is trying to find balance between appropriate caution and overreaction. Several weeks ago, before the California shelter-in-place order, Ms. Patlin decided to mostly stay indoors.

She had read enough about how quickly coronavirus had spread in China, Italy and then Seattle, and how very sick it was making so many. She felt she could rely on only herself and her Clorox to stay healthy.

“I keep a very clean apartment, and I feel safe at home,” she said.

Ms. Patlin, a graduate student studying clinical psychology, was diagnosed with O.C.D. about five years ago, she said, after years of being afraid of public toilets, refusing to eat off dishes that she hadn’t scrubbed herself or witnessed being sufficiently cleaned by others and being fearful of being hugged by basically anyone.

She used to clean her apartment and her hands with pure bleach and cleaning solutions until the skin on her fingers started to peel off, which she would take as a sign that she was cleaning the proper amount.

In recent years, she said, she had managed what is known as “contamination O.C.D.” with medication and therapy. But these days, Ms. Patlin has felt her O.C.D. take reign again.

When she heard a neighbor sneeze across the courtyard, she closed her windows to keep out any shared air. When a friend picked up Ms. Patlin’s prescriptions from a pharmacy and left them for her at her doorstep, she wiped down the bottles with bleach, in the hope of killing any germs the pharmacist may have transmitted.

The most complicated part is she doesn’t even know anymore what’s too much.

“These are the moments when I am asking myself, ‘Is that my O.C.D. or should I be doing that?’” Ms. Patlin said. “The lines are getting blurred.”

About one-third of people with O.C.D. are afflicted by contamination O.C.D. The new reality of a pandemic that requires acute attention to the transmission of germs creates additional peril for these people.

“The rules have changed,” said Julia Hitch, a psychologist in Seattle whose practice is in part devoted to treating children and adults with O.C.D.

“Friends and neighbors are now engaging in O.C.D.-type behaviors, and it’s making people in treatment with O.C.D. wonder: ‘How do I not let this get out of hand, and what is out of hand anymore?’” Dr. Hitch said.

Those who have successfully gone through treatment to overcome or manage a contamination obsession and sanitizing compulsion are working hard to cope.

Bella Ronan, a 19-year-old in Kirkland, Wash., was diagnosed with O.C.D. when she was 9. Her symptoms began, she said, after her younger sister, Frannie, was born. Ms. Ronan obsessively worried about germs coming into the house that could harm her sister, who has Down syndrome.

To avoid transferring germs from one room to another, Ms. Ronan designated a different pair of slippers for each room of the house. She would change her slippers three times as she went from the kitchen to the living room to the laundry room. If her mother wiped down a table with a cleaner that had chemicals in it and Ms. Ronan’s book was placed on the table, she would refuse to touch the book again for fear of being contaminated by the chemical.

“I was washing my hands 40 times a day, scrubbing them so they were raw and bloody,” said Ms. Ronan, who is living with her family while on a gap year between high school and college.

Years of intensive therapy and finding the right combination of medications offered short-term relief from the O.C.D., she said. But her life was changed after she turned 18 and was eligible for an adult residential treatment program.

She stayed for eight weeks and the treatment consisted of intense exposure therapy during which Ms. Ronan tested her fears that germs and chemicals could make her sick by touching various surfaces and liquids (for example, the bottom of shoes, bathroom countertops and laundry detergent) and then gradually extending the amounts of time before she could wash her hands.

Exposure and response prevention therapy is the most effective treatment, experts say. It systematically tests a patient’s worries that something will harm them by exposing them in a prolonged, repetitive and intensifying system to things that they fear.

When the exposure doesn’t cause significant illness or harm, the patients can begin to learn how to better cope.

But the unusual and urgent focus on sanitation to fight the spread of the virus is also creating concerns for health care professionals involved in the treatment of O.C.D., said Bradley Riemann, a psychologist and the chief clinical officer of Rogers Behavioral Health, which has mental health and addiction treatment centers around the country. (Dr. Riemann is also the clinical director of Rogers’s O.C.D. Center, in Oconomowoc, Wis.)

That’s why providing treatment for O.C.D. right now is especially complicated. “This is clearly a time when we have had to change the way we interact with one another and the way we interact with our environment — it’s a matter of public safety for all of us,” Dr. Riemann said. “But it really collides with the world of O.C.D., and in particular with patients with contamination O.C.D.”

Usually, Dr. Riemann and his staff work with patients by asking them to interact with germs, increasingly extending the amounts of time between washing their hands or otherwise sanitizing. In some situations, he said, patients are asked to touch toilet seats or bathroom floors, and then are given food to eat before washing their hands.

“As you can see, the world we live in today, that collides head on with that kind of treatment intervention,” he said. “It has been very challenging to try to achieve a balance where you are keeping your staff and patients as safe as we all can be, yet still providing effective treatment.”


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Philthy Rich – High Fashion (Official Video)



Listen to the album “Hometown Hero”. Out now!

#PhilthyRich #HometownHero #HighFashion

Official music video by Philthy Rich – High Fasion © 2020 SCMMLLC / EMPIRE


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You Can Buy Non-Medical Face Masks From These Fashion Brands Right Now



Masks have become one of the most ubiquitous and confusing topics amid all the coronavirus talk. You’re probably hearing a lot about N95 and shortages and companies pivoting to manufacturing them and conflicting statements regarding whether or not regular people without symptoms should use them. 

Here’s what we know: While the CDC has previously advised against wearing masks unless you’re coughing or sick, this week, it’s begun reviewing those guidelines based on new data showing the extent to which asymptomatic people are unwittingly transmitting the virus. While many experts say more people should wear masks, others worry such a recommendation could lead to hoarding that prevents healthcare workers from getting the masks they so desperately need. So far, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has told its citizens to mask up. The White House is expected to do the same.


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