Japan’s Uniqlo to make masks using underwear fabric

Reuters

Posted at May 25 2020 11:46 AM

Commuters wearing protective face masks are seen a day after the government announced the lifting of the state of emergency by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in large parts of the country including Fukuoka, in Fukuoka, southern Japan, May 15, 2020. Kyodo via Reuters

TOKYO - Japanese casual clothing chain Uniqlo, owned by Fast Retailing, said it plans to sell face masks made of fabric used for its Airism underwear line in response to strong demand for protective gear for the coronavirus.

The company had previously been wary of making face masks, but a spokeswoman said it changed its mind after receiving many requests from customers to make them.

Details on pricing and launch dates would be announced at a later date, she said on Monday.

The Airism undergarments feature a specially-developed fabric known for a smooth, silky feel. The company says the fabric also keeps the wearer cool in the summer months by releasing moisture and heat.

Facial masks have been in short supply in Japan since the coronavirus epidemic swept the country, prompting businesses such as sportswear brand Mizuno Corp and smartphone screen maker Sharp Corp to start producing them.