A new clothing retailer in Kelowna, Grey Hearts Denim, is chipping in to help the community in its fight against COVID-19.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, Sean Whyte and his partner Paul Reyes held their grand opening at their shop on Pandosy Street with their sights set on re-working and re-purposing vintage finds.
Rather than offering brand-new, bulk-purchased clothing, the two would search through thrift shops and anywhere they could get their hands on lightly used clothing to create something fresh and innovative. But what they didn’t expect was to have launched right before a global pandemic.
Fortunately, the two had an idea of using their materials to create custom protective masks for both consumer needs and frontline health workers.
“My partner and I are sitting on all this denim that has been donated to us from a buddy,” said Whyte.
“He wasn’t happy with the cuts on somethings and we were about upcycling, so we took it. We weren’t thinking about it for this even and then all of a sudden we were in the middle of a pandemic and we wanted to help and it clicked.”
The two partners did some in-house research and came up with an idea for the design. Reyes has a wealth of experience in fashion design and was able to develop a prototype of a denim mask with a filter that is not only stylish but protective.
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We're in the workshop cookin up some much needed 🔥🔥🔥 Paul's almost done readying a prototype for production, and we'll have something for yall next week – details regarding design, donations and purchases to follow shortly. Shout out to our homie Sei @startwiththebasis for linking us with the extra raw Selvedge denim 🙏🏽 he told to us to do with it as we saw fit… boom 💥 note Selvedge mask pull tabs #details 👊🏽💥 . Stay up and stay safe out there homies! ❤🤘🏽 . . . . . . #upcycle #rework #denim #raw #selvedge #masks #cover #facemask #indigo #okanagan #okgntogetherapart #kelowna
The denim masks will be fabricated for consumers and frontline workers will be given the classic health worker mask made of a different material.
“We wanted to separate consumer needs from the frontline and essential worker needs,” said Whyte.
“Unfortunately, you’re getting those two blended together and so for us it was like ‘hey we can offer the consumer something cool while upcycling this denim that we got so they’re not buying all this stuff that our frontline and essential workers need’.”
So far about 200 masks for frontline workers have been made and will be donated. Masks for consumers are still in the works.
Since promoting their masks online, Grey Hearts Denim has received much praise and interest from the public.
”We’ve heard from people from all over North America, like nurses and frontline workers as well as people from hard it places like Michigan,” said Whyte.
“Of course right here in Kelowna as well. The more we’ve been talking to people the more we realized there are people in need (of protective masks).”