As Alberta continues to ease lockdown restriction, more and more companies have shifted their production to accommodate the growing need for protective face-wear, with a couple of local companies making masks right here in Calgary. 

Both the provincial and federal government are encouraging the use of non-medical face masks.  

Medium Rare Chef Apparel, a Calgary-based company that produces and supplies attire to the restaurant industry, has now turned their attention to producing reusable and machine-washable face masks. 

“We needed to try to pivot to try to do what we could, kind of to help out just in the community, around Calgary [and] Canada,” says Andrew Dallman, the company’s CEO.

For every mask that Medium Rare sells, they donate one to a frontline worker. 

Their masks are made in their Calgary factory and are based off a template they found online from a hospital in Ontario. Dallman says that they worked on four or five different variations of the mask before reaching the final product.

“We did a few modifications to make it our own and did some testing, some wash testing, and had them on a bunch of different faces.”

Medium Rare’s masks, which feature a pocket allowing for a filter to be added, as well as a soft wire to help seal the mask to the wearer’s face, can be purchased online through the company’s website for $19.95 each. 

Adesso Man partners with local designers to produce their reusable face masks in Calgary. Photo courtesy of Adesso Man

Men’s accessory company and retailer, Adesso Man is another Calgary-based company that has started offering face masks, which come in three different sizes, are machine washable and are made out of a mix of bamboo, cotton and spandex.

“We want to provide value, and we want to help people, and we want to really provide products that will make people’s lives better so face masks was the natural thing to do,” says Abdul Basit Ahmed, one of the company’s founders and CEO. 

Their masks are made in partnership with local designers out of fabrics sourced from Canadian companies, all while being manufactured here in Calgary. They offer five different designs, aimed at being a more fashion-forward alternative. 

“I feel like if people are going to be wearing this quite a bit, it should kind of fit their personality, or they should feel comfortable in it.”

The face masks can be purchased individually on their website for $15 or as part of their Survival Kit, which includes locally produced hand sanitizer, for $30, with 20 per cent of the proceeds being donated to The Mustard Seed either way. 

“It’s part of our mission to really help, uplift and empower vulnerable people in our communities and build confidence. The Mustard Seed does quite a bit of that, especially with working with the homeless community,” says Ahmed. 

A couple other Alberta companies that have shifted to making face masks include Weddingstar and Oke Apparel, both of which have their masks made in China. Oke, similarly to Adesso, is donating part of their proceeds with 20 per cent of profits going to the COVID-19 Community Response Fund.