Fast Retailing Co., operator of the clothing stores, will begin selling reusable face masks in Japan, the company said. The masks, which will be sold in sets of three and retail for ¥990 ($9), aim for both performance and comfort, according to the company.
. With more than 2,000 stores globally and over $20 billion in annual sales, it would be one of the largest retailers to sell masks. Other large apparel makers such as Gap Inc., Madewell Inc. and Adidas AG have also recently introduced face masks.
Fast Retailing, which plans to produce 500,000 mask packs a week, will use its breathable AIRism fabric for the masks, which it developed with Japanese textile company Toray Industries Inc. The masks have a bacterial filtration efficiency of 99% which is retained even after 20 washes, according to the statement. AIRism is often used to market breathable summer clothing, which could boost its appeal ahead of the hot and humid summer in Japan, where authorities have begun issuing warnings of the increased danger of heat stroke when wearing a mask.
Face masks, commonly worn in Japan and other Asian countries, have been cited as one potential reason why transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been lower in Asia. In the U.S., the usage of masks has drawn controversy amid mixed messaging from leaders.