Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 30

state's work-from-home order. According
to Jordan Barnes, designer and operations
manager for the family-owned company,
Hawaii's isolated location makes sourcing
PPE particularly challenging. A friend
with connections to the state's emergency
procurement operations told him, "If you
can start making masks, I can get you
back to work."
Barnes and his wife began designing
and sewing masks at home and giving
them away. Barnes's father, company
owner Gary Barnes, recommended they
add an inside layer of Block-It® Matrix, a
breathable, water-resistant polypropylene
nonwoven fabric.
Barnes cited IFAI's COVID-19 Resource
Center as a helpful source of information.
"IFAI has been on top of it, pulling people
together, discussing materials and sharing
patterns," he says.
Gary Barnes sent a sample of the mask
to the state department of health, which
responded with a contract for 2,000
community masks. As a result, Tropical J's
reopened, calling back its 30 employees.
Several revisions to the original design
After receiving a state contract for
community masks, Tropical J's Inc.
reopened to manufacture masks
such as this colorful assortment.
Photo: Tropical J's Inc.

rendered operations quicker and more
efficient. The company also offered the
use of its in-house cutting machine to local
home sewers making PPE.
"Word spread quickly, and soon
sailmakers and other upholsterers were
dropping off rolls of fabric to be cut-
many times over what we could ever
manufacture ourselves," he says.
The company has since filled the state's
order, with more in the pipeline, including
another 500 masks that were made for
a local contractor's construction crew.
"People are slowly starting to get back to
work, and I'm now seeing some of the
masks we've made out in public," Barnes
says. "It's a great feeling to belong to one of
the many local companies that rose to the
occasion during this pandemic."
MAKING THE MOST
OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Justin Jones, owner at SewLong Custom
Covers, a marine fabricator in Salt Lake
City, Utah, credited social media with the
company's introduction to PPE. "We were
inspired by our colleagues on Facebook,"

PIVOT TO SURVIVE

W

ith the need for protective equipment showing no signs of abating,
apparel brands such as Hanesbrands Inc. and Gildan Activewear
Inc. have indicated that PPE manufacturing may become a permanent
part of their businesses. Whether or not industrial textile manufacturers
will have the same rate of success remains to be seen. But one thing is
sure: to pivot is to survive.
Management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and the Business of
Fashion (BoF) put it this way in their joint report The State of Fashion 2020
Coronavirus Update: "To cope with new restrictions, mitigate the damaging
impact of the pandemic and adapt to economic and consumer shifts,
companies must introduce new tools and strategies across the value chain
to future-proof their business models."
"Use this time to reinvent how you do what you do, bring consumers
new alternatives, new value and in the process even reinvent your own
brand," advises retail futurist Doug Stephens in the same report.

30 REVIEW AUGUST 2020

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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020

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Specialty Fabrics Review August 2020 - 1
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