— Karan Berry and Leon Vaz
The coronavirus pandemic has uprooted our lives and economically affected all industries, including Fashion. With flagships shut and production halted, designers are experiencing a financial nightmare. In this moment of global crisis, many of them are stepping up to utilise their design resources to help the less fortunate. One such initiative is 'Masks For Humanity' — a collaboration between the BMC and designers Karan Berry and Leon Vaz of 'Karleo' to design and produce non-surgical masks primarily for BMC sweepers, garbage collectors and others who are on the frontline on a daily basis. Over to the duo.
''With the COVID-19 global pandemic putting a strain on resources, we at Karleo wanted to do something to help in our own way. As fashion designers, we decided to help by utilising our team's skills to create masks—the most essential accessory these days—for those who need them the most. We hope this encourages others also to help in whatever way they can. The nature of this collaboration was to seek absolutely mandatory permissions [will defeat the purpose otherwise] and guidelines from the Government authorities and then utilise those to create non- surgical masks and donate the same to them until any further requirements. We are in the middle of completing the first batch of 5,000 masks to be delivered to the BMC as soon as possible and will continue to do so for them as per their requirements. Once we have completed the BMC requirements we shall be fulfilling the requirements of other organisations like NGOs and churches that have started approaching us to be a part of this initiative.
That said, we have been getting a very warm response from our well wishers and partners like Saroj Fabrics, Mumbai who have graciously volunteered to provide us with fabrics for this cause. Along with fabrics from our design studios, we should be okay for now to create the first batch of non surgical masks for the BMC but it seems they would be requiring much more as it's becoming a norm in all countries to prevent the virus, if you are asymptomatic. Also helps to save and reduce the pressure on surgical masks for the medical professionals of our country. Besides this, our design teams are already working on prototypes of gloves and suits. So, we are more than welcome to receive aid in the form of fabrics and any work-from-home groups at this point.
How does this process work? We have systematically chosen a team of five members from Karleo who live in different parts of Mumbai. Each team member is dealing with a cluster of work-from-home ladies with a carefully planned system of pick and drop without physical contact with anyone. After that we collect them all at one home for sanitising, ironing and packing to distribute. We have set up four- five clusters, each comprising of up to ten persons, mostly work-from-home ladies, and we are looking to keep expanding depending on the needs of the government. We are also paying them fair wages so they may meet their daily needs, and most importantly, taking care of their unemployment.''