Major fashion businesses have begun contributing to the global shortage of protective supplies for medical workers, from retailers like H&M and Zara to luxury firms like LVMH, Kering and Prada. Now, individual designers are beginning to fight the global pandemic, including Christian Siriano, who just last week announced he'd be refocusing his brand's production to creating surgical masks. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo accepted Siriano's pledge and encouraged others to follow: "Who's next? Let's do this together NY," he tweeted.
Grisel Lopez, the Puerto Rican, nonbinary designer behind Brooklyn-based brand Possessed, is taking on the challenge — and doing so independently. They're using PVC to manufacture clear, BDSM-leaning face masks that they first introduced for Fall 2020 during NYFW. "Due to the scarcity of masks, I will be making them for hospitals and frontline workers," Lopez announced on Instagram. "They can be sanitized and reused with soap and water or alcohol."
Lopez, who says they're an asthma patient and therefore cannot risk exposing themselves to COVID-19, is seeking New York volunteers to help deliver the face masks to hospitals while supplies last. Additionally, they're looking for Cuomo and companies "to donate materials to create more of these products and send them to people willing to sew." NYC has emerged as the epicenter of the pandemic, with roughly 5% of the world's confirmed cases.
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Possessed's latest initiative ties back to their core mission of empowering and building community — especially for their LGBTQ customers. In a 2018 interview with PAPER, Grisel spoke to the importance of this: ""[Possessed] has helped many of my girlfriends feel powerful," they said, specifically referencing their queer customers. "It has catered to a lot of people." They continued, "I didn't move to New York to hide. I've always wanted to give the best."
Photography: Sherri Danielz (photos courtesy of Possessed)