New Balance - COVID-19

New Balance to Help make Face Masks To Support Medical Staff

By Michael Barbara | April 20, 2020

In just a matter of months, the COVID-19 novel has changed our lives as we know it, putting the entire globe into lockdown, freezing businesses and straining healthcare systems. For us, safely sheltered at home practicing social distancing and patiently waiting for a positive progression it all feels like a dystopian script. Outside our four walls however, the death toll tallies to saddening numbers, unemployment rates are rising and businesses are facing mammoth losses.

BOF columnist Luca Solca urges the fashion industry to fall into a state of hibernation, “They may need to act like bears in the winter: preserve all their vital organs and functions, shed the fat, and switch to resource-saving (in this cash-saving) mode,” he wrote. “Virtually all manufacturing and sourcing must stop, as it makes no sense to create or produce new seasons when stores are closed, and sales are essentially at zero.” While there’s no fault in the logic that as everything freezes over and cash influx is stunted businesses and corporations need to take vital steps in ensuring they remain safe from bankruptcy, others have gone a step up, and a step further.

In an attempt to fight back and support smaller scale businesses and creatives many big brands have taken It upon themselves to help aid the damage done to these groups. Nike have donated millions, the Armani group have seized all manufacturing plants to produce single use medical overalls, Hugo Boss have dedicated their production facilities to the manufacture of face masks which are donated to public facilities.

Following suit, New Balance join the fight against the invisible killer teaming up with local medical facilities in producing general use face masks, aiming to churn out as many as 100.000 units weekly. Alongside masks, their teams will be working on gowns, foot coverings and other various necessities all in compliance with the FDA, so as they fit preset requirements and can be used by medical staff on the front line. Chris Davis, vice president global marketing at New Balance, said: “New Balance is a purpose driven company known for quality, fit and comfort. Knowing the shortage of PPE and after consultation with local medical experts, we embraced the challenge of shifting our production to make facial masks leveraging the same approach that we take with footwear. We are fortunate to be able to tap into our dedicated factory associates and partner relationships to create general-use face masks while iterating the design and materials specifications to achieve a product that can be confidently used by frontline medical staff.”New Balance’s rapid response to the demands of the time is not a commercial opportunity, pursuing break-even pricing and even donations to go towards the masks.

Combining years of industrial P&D expertise, alongside innovative thinking and unprecedented new ways of construction such as 3D printing reflects the brands propose driven culture in a time of universal uncertainty.