Masks, Social Distancing and Covid-Repellant Fashion?

Last week, Australian women’s activewear label Lorna Jane was fined almost $40,000 for claiming that a range of their activewear could protect against viruses and bacteria.[1] The Secretary of the Department of Health stated that such advertising could have “detrimental consequences for the Australian community” by causing people to become complacent and reduce the practise of recommended protective measures. Lorna Jane has defended its ‘LJ Shield’ technology, asserting that this technology has been in the works for two years and has undergone the required checks to validate its ability to reduce bacteria by 99.9%. Despite these assurances, plenty of consumers are not impressed, as this is the latest in the line of public controversies instigated by the activewear brand.

Then today I stumble upon an article in Vogue discussing the various companies investing in antiviral fashion technology.[2] I didn’t realise that technology in clothing could actually be capable of repelling viruses and bacteria, but apparently this is the 21st century.

Antibacterial clothing has been around for ages, and now due to Covid-19, companies have fast-tracked their testing. According to Vogue, Swiss company HeiQ has invented an invisible film for fabrics that kills 99.9% of the virus that causes Covid-19. Research has shown that clothes can act as a transmission route for viruses, and therefore the implementation of antibacterial technology can minimise your chance of catching the virus if it serves to kill the virus within minutes. This increases the functionality of clothes in a time when we’re modifying all of our behaviours to avoid catching the virus. And why shouldn’t fashion be used to act as another barrier to the virus, if possible?

LJ and HeiQ have allegedly confirmed that their technology is capable of doing just that, but this is where the fear of complacency emerges. Purchasers of antibacterial and antiviral fashion cannot abandon social distancing or remove their masks simply because their clothing affords them a layer of protection. Sellers of these products will need to explain how the technology works and include a disclaimer as to how it will not necessarily protect against transmission. If consumers are informed of the nature of the product and the need to continue to abide with other protective measures, then we should be celebrating this functional use of fashion. We have clothes to regulate temperature, protect against sunburn and to repel against water. It makes sense that clothes should also be made to shield against germs and viruses as we’re desperately seeking ways to protect ourselves during this pandemic.

The idea of antiviral fashion no longer seems so outlandish.

Thanks for stopping by! x




We Must Shop Better

Modern slavery in the fast fashion industry has once again come to light following the investigation into Boohoo’s treatment of workers in the factory in Leicester. But this is certainly not a new issue. This has been happening in supply chains all over the world, and the situation has only been exacerbated by Covid-19. It is estimated that half a million garment workers in Bangladesh are at risk of losing their jobs as a result of order cancellations, which is in addition to the one million workers who have already lost their jobs during the economic downturn.[1] Even prior to the pandemic, 4 million garment workers in Bangladesh were suffering from low wages and unsafe working conditions that contravened their human rights.[2] Millions of these workers are currently being pushed into poverty and are at risk of starvation. It is recognised that this is also happening in India, Cambodia, Myanmar and now the UK.

Devastatingly, It does not look as though the situation will improve anytime soon. Fast fashion companies will continue to implement exploitative practices for the purpose of reducing costs in the supply chain as long as demand persists. Boohoo, H&M, Zara, Fashion Nova and Gap are just some of the fast fashion giants that have been accused of wage and labour violations, with few companies conforming to safer labour practices. But insufficient progress has been made, as it is simply not profitable for fast-fashion companies to pay living wages and adhere to fundamental labour rights while achieving staggering profits.

This is a purely systemic problem that arises as a result of the fast fashion model. It is not possible to sell cheap items without unsustainable and exploitative practices occurring within the supply chain. We have extremely affordable and on-trend clothing available to us 24/7, but at what cost?

I recall first discovering fast-fashion during my early teens when I was cultivating my love for fashion. I remember finding a pair of trendy jeans for $30 and thinking about how wonderful it was to be able to afford stylish clothing with my pocket money. It felt like the doors to fashion heaven had opened for me, as there was just so much clothing out there at affordable prices. I never bought a bunch of clothes and then sent them to landfill a season later, but I flocked to those stores and relished the bargain hunting. The environmental and human costs associated with my newfound joy were unknown to me. I did not realise the true consequences of such affordable and low-quality fashion until some years later. But despite these injustices being widely acknowledged for a number of years, Boohoo has allegedly managed to get away with paying their factory workers as low as £3.50 per hour until now – £5.22 less than the country’s minimum wage for over 25s.[3]

Consumers have the power to make sustainable and socially-ethical purchasing decisions. I acknowledge that shopping with fast fashion brands is tempting when faced with comparatively cheap shoes and clothing. And as I touched on earlier, the affordability of fast fashion meant that I could covet trends and celebrity styles as soon as they popped up on social media. But we also have a responsibility to know where we are putting our money, and no designer knock-off is worth human exploitation. As consumers, we have the ability to pressure these companies to pay their garment workers a living wage, to provide them with proper working conditions that adhere to their rights, and to treat them the dignity that they deserve. We also have a choice as to what to buy, and I would certainly urge everyone to reduce or eradicate their consumption of fast fashion. For some it won’t be easy to boycott these massive brands, but the act of at least minimising our support for fast fashion brands will be an important step for social justice and environmental purposes.

I recommend learning more by following @remakeourworld, @whomade.yourclothes and the hashtags #payup and #whomademyclothes on Instagram.

[1] Taslima Akhter. (2020, June 22). Bangladesh’s Garment Workers Are Being Treated as Disposable. Retrieved from

[2] Ibid

[3] Kansara, V. A. (2020, July 10). Why Fashion ‘Slavery’ Is Making Headlines. Retrieved from