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American Giant, Hanes, and other clothing brands will make 1 million medical-grade masks a week

These brands are halting the production of clothes to focus entirely on making medical-grade masks.

American Giant, Hanes, and other clothing brands will make 1 million medical-grade masks a week
[Photo: Jurgute/iStock; Annie Spratt/Unsplash]

If you’re looking for a cozy American Giant hoodie to live in during this prolonged period of social distancing, you might soon be out of luck. The startup, which is known for its durable, American-made clothing, has retooled its entire North Carolina factory and retrained all of its sewers to make medical-grade masks.

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American Giant is part of a coalition of 11 brands that include Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, and Los Angeles Apparel that will start manufacturing personal protective equipment for healthcare workers on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus. While much of apparel manufacturing has been shipped out of the United States over the last four decades, a small number of companies has chosen to invest in making products locally. These brands are now able to more quickly shift their production and deliver much-needed gear to hospitals in the United States.

Equipping hospital workers with the necessary tools has become a top priority as COVID-19 cases spread across the country. The coalition companies are joining forces to make a million masks a week that have been certified by the Department of Health and Human Services.

To do this, some of these companies have had to stop the production of their own goods. American Giant, for instance, is no longer making its regular line of clothing, which means that when its current inventory runs out, it will not be able to restock. In other words, the brand is sacrificing its bottom line for this effort.

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About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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