JAPAN — Asia’s largest retailer introduces the right product at the right time: the “AIRism Mask.”
Uniqlo will begin selling reusable face masks for 990 yen ($9) at Uniqlo stores and online stores in Japan on Friday, June 19th. In a statement on Monday, June 15, Fast Retailing Co., operator of the clothing stores, announced that the launching of the hybrid mask is “for all seasons that has both high performance and good feel to the skin due to UNIQLO’s unique technology.” The mask is characterized by a smooth texture that “does not feel stiff or thick,” guaranteeing comfort.
Available in 3 sizes, the AIRism Mask has a unique three-layer structure in order to enhance the protective performance required for the mask. The company said that a “high-performance filter” is built in between the “mesh material” on the front side and the “airrhythm” on the inside and ensures a bacterial filtration efficiency of 99% which is retained even after 20 washes. The “mesh material” arranged in the front side has UV protection function and blocks 90% of the UV rays (UPF40), Uniqlo adds.
In an article by Bloomberg, Fast Retailing said that the plans for sales of the Uniqlo masks outside of its home base of Japan will be announced as they are set. The retail giant has over $20 billion in annual sales with more than 2,000 stores globally, making it the largest retailer to sell face masks. In partnership with textile company, Toray Industries Inc., Fast Retailing Co. plans to produce 500,000 mask packs a week with their AIRism fabric technology which is often used to market breathable summer clothing, boosting its appeal in hot and humid countries such as the Philippines.
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.