Virgil Abloh + Off-White Collab w/ Cleveland Clinic on New Face Mask Initiative
Above image by Gabe Loughney
Virgil Abloh, American designer, entrepreneur, and DJ, has held the position of Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection since March 2018. But the cognoscenti better know him as CEO and founder of streetwear juggernaut Off-White (now based in Milan), whose edgy and provocatively colorful offerings quickly made the jump from insidery fashion pages to gracing the selling floors at the likes of Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.
He also notably did time as Kanye West’s creative director, and got yards of press as the designer of Hailey Bieber’s particularly dramatic wedding dress.
But as we slog through what we hope is the final phase of the deadly pandemic, Virgil is bringing his star power to the fight against this insidious virus, in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic and LA-based green production shop Suay. Indeed, the trio have created a unique new hand-washable, hang dry face mask…and 100% of the proceeds from sales will be directed to support COVID-19 related research at the clinic’s Center for Global and Emerging Pathogens.
Simply put, for those who have struggled with finding a face covering that is both attractive and significantly effective at protecting one’s health, these stylish new masks should swiftly be added to your pandemic wardrobe. Abloh and Suay have constructed it for high filtration and breathability, but it also eschews the institutional look of, say, the prevalent N95.
The masks also underwent vigorous testing, and the results revealed that particle filtration remained high even after more than 20 washes – a feat unmatched by currently commercially available face coverings.
Abloh’s sleekly styled, meticulously contoured masks feature neon contrast-hued binding with adjustable ear loops. And not eschewing eco concerns for pandemic urgency, they are shipped in compostable packaging. The production process was also rendered with a sustainability-minded focus – fabricated using a combination of post-consumer waste and deadstock integrated with domestically and organically grown fibers.
“Masking is critical to limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” says Lara Kalafatis, chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Philanthropy Institute. “So we are grateful to Virgil Abloh and Suay for their commitment to helping us meet a critical need as we navigate this global health crisis. Thanks, also, to the many people who will purchase and proudly wear this unique face covering, as the proceeds will immediately fund the life-saving COVID-19 research underway at Cleveland Clinic.”
The distinctly fashionable masks are available for purchase at Canary Yellow. Off-White has also made a charitable donation to the clinic, and created a limited edition keepsake t-shirt that reads I Support Our HealthCare Heroes, with Cleveland Clinic’s staff each receiving one of their own, which resulted in a statement-making photo shoot.
“In the big scheme of things,” Abloh observes, “projects like these are when fashion is the most important.”
Purchasing one will assure that you ride out the second wave in style – but will also make you part of the solution.