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General News of Sunday, 12 April 2020


Free local masks; here’s what this genius fashion designer is doing for Ghana

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It’s a time when innovation and creativity is being beautifully blended with love and patriotism. Virtually everybody is doing their little to make the ‘world a better place’, beginning from Ghana.

Fashion Designer, James Doe has also chosen his path; producing local Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to support and help overcome the shortages in the country, and that’s his way of helping to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

He explains to Ghanaweb, that his interest was piqued when a news item on some international channels including the CNN, showed luxury labels, designers and conglomerates all stepping up to a call by New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo for companies to be “creative to supply the crucial gear to healthcare workers”.

A call which was answered by top designers including Christian Siriano, Prabal Gurung, Karla Collerto, with offers to retool production and put sewing teams and unused resources to good use.

Why not replicate same in Ghana, he thought? So he did. He began to produce locally designed face masks, with cotton fabrics he had in his shop at Sowutuom, to share to ordinary Ghanaians at no cost at all.

“The fight is for all of us. When this whole thing started, I noticed that some world leaders were calling on fashion designers in the UK, US and other countries to come up with face masks to help. That made me ask what I could also do as a fashion designer in my country to help, hence the development of the face masks.”

“I started producing the nose masks freely way before the lockdown. I did the normal nose mask made from the quality cotton fabrics and then I tried to design one in our own national colours to depict something which is made from our country.”

“I was just giving them out randomly when I’m driving past and I see people, I just give it out to them, I didn’t have a particular group of people I was giving it to.” He explained in an interview with Ghanaweb.

Though the lockdown has affected his sales, with virtually no one coming to buy his clothes, Mr. Doe has decided to put a hold on the making of the clothes to use the remaining fabric in his shop to create these locally-made face masks to share for free.

His reward, he says, is in seeing people safe and protected. He admits they may not be a 100 percent guaranteed for the purpose of protection, but something he believes is better than nothing at all.

“The Coronavirus has affected my work, people are not coming to buy. The fabrics were those I bought myself, they were billed for other works but because of love and country, I used them for the masks."

"I’ve heard it is not fully guaranteed because it is not medically produced but I also know that it is better to use that than not to use it at all. It may not protect you from everything, but for those who may not have access to the approved ones, it may save you significantly.”

The owner of DoeSeries designs also has proposed a model protective gear which he says is more flexible and elongated to cover the eyes, nose and neck area of the user. The sample one, he made from a bowl, a used plastic bottle and a band.

He explained that this can be used together with the face mask to help frontline health workers keep safe. He believes some modifications from the government will help produce a better-looking local PPE that will be very useful in the fight against the pandemic.

“I got the idea just on Wednesday. It was a plastic bottle and a normal bowl to create the desire. You can use it together with the nose mask and there is comfortability and reliability. If there are any modifications that the ministry or government will want to make to it, we can add it and present it as a package. It’s very suitable for doctors, media personnel, nurses etc. I hope they all get it because it is very lengthy and can’t expose you.” He continued.

With about 200 face masks given out already, and materials running out, Mr. Doe says a little help from benevolent persons and government to support the fabric buying will go a long way to boost his initiative and assist the layperson who cannot afford to buy face masks.

“I have used all my resources to help the public so I would want the government to come to my aid to help me produce this. We would love to hear from government and this is not for the money because if it were for that, I wouldn’t have begun the free distribution in the first place, it’s all because of love for the country.”

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