In the early days of the outbreak, we focused our initial efforts on the health and safety of our people and on supporting our long-standing community partners. To start, we committed an initial $3 million to COVID-19 relief, building on strong programs and networks that we already had in place so that we could quickly pivot toward a quick response.
As the pandemic has continued, we know that there is still an unmet need for both medical-grade and non-medical masks – so we explored what else we could do from a manufacturing and philanthropic perspective to help fill these gaps.
Though currently sold out, the Levi’s® brand is selling reusable non-medical masks at levi.com and providing a $75,000 donation to Doctors Without Borders. This grant will assist the organization’s efforts to source the masks they need to deliver emergency medical care in response to COVID-19 and to provide critical services they are providing to support vulnerable populations globally.
We worked with some of our suppliers to make disposable masks and reusable, reversible face masks. Both are non-medical but are designed to serve the needs of our employees and the public as we adapt to this new reality. The brand team partnered with medical device experts, engaging in deep research to understand how medical face masks were designed for optimized airflow and fit. They took these learnings and applied them to the Levi’s® design for the reusable masks to make them as effective and comfortable as possible.
“Wearing a mask demonstrates support and care for your community, and may have to be a part of our lives for a while. We wanted to design a simple, versatile solution –easy to wear, with an authentic Levi’s look and feel,” said Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co. “We choose our classic bandana print because it’s part of our natural Levi’s design vocabulary; but every mask is reversible and can be worn with the solid color side out. We added a Red Tab to give the wearer a simple and intuitive indication of which side is ‘up.’”
The non-medical disposable masks are also being distributed to all retail and distribution center employees around the world. It is incumbent on us to keep them safe, and this, along with stringent health and safety guidelines and protocols, will help us do just that.
“Anything that might be a motivator to take the mask off is a design flaw. And any adaptation to allow you to wear it as long as possible is a design feature,” Paul said. “So I was constantly thinking about what’s the right fabric for Levi’s look and feel, but also what’s the easiest fabric to allow people to wear it the longest.”
In addition, as the global shortage of medical-grade masks continues and the pandemic spreads through many parts of the developing world, we wanted to help fill the unmet need for these critical supplies. The grant to MSF supports the lifesaving medical work they do worldwide, providing emergency medical services to vulnerable populations and COVID-19 relief efforts. This is in addition to an earlier $150,000 donation to MSF from the Levi Strauss Foundation as part of our COVID-19 relief efforts.
We will continue to listen to our community partners who are on the frontline of the crisis and evolve our response as the impact of the pandemic continues.
Check back at levi.com for masks when they become re-available. Note that Levi’s® face masks are non-medical, reusable face coverings that are not FDA-approved as medical devices and are not certified Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Please continue practicing social distancing, washing your hands, and refraining from touching your face.