Liberty Face Coverings

During the initial lockdown of 2020, the team at the Liberty Printing Mill got to work making face coverings from upcycled Tana Lawn™ cotton – an uplifting print fix to benefit the community.

Mauro Miele, the CEO of the Liberty Printing Mill who spearheaded the project, explained that when it first came to developing and producing the Liberty face coverings, time was really the key factor. “At the beginning of the lockdown in Italy, masks were nowhere to be found. Our mill is in Northern Italy – an area that was particularly affected by the pandemic.” Miele and his team had to think quickly and use the materials they had available, to get the face coverings out to those who needed them. The face coverings were developed using Tana fabric which was already in stock, upcycled to reduce waste. “This saved us almost a month in the production cycle, and allowed us to respond quickly to the emergency.”

The team at the Liberty Printing Mill developed a special Oeko-Tex® certified treatment for the fabrics, which gave the Tana antimicrobial and hydrorepellent properties, after carrying out testing at the University of Bologna to find the best solutions. The first face coverings were entirely made by hand, while an automated production line was designed and built in only 45 days, allowing the team to produce the large quantities of face coverings that were needed. “Our machine produces pre-packaged masks: the fabric is cut to size, folded and partially sewn; then the elastic bands are inserted and sewn by hand.”

Being able to support the community in a practical way has been a driving force behind the production of the face coverings – in Northern Italy and beyond. “The initial motivation that drove me to look for a fast, practical, sustainable and even innovative solution to make masks was to helping our region,” explains Miele. “The first 10,000 masks we produced were donated to the municipality, which distributed them to the citizens. We have donated masks to all our employees, including their family members and to customers for their employees, and we also donated part of the profit to the hospital in our local community.”

In addition to this, for each pack of five face coverings sold by Liberty during the 2020 summer donation scheme, one covering was donated to a charity, with a total donation number of over 50,000 individual face coverings. Hard-working organisations that received donations of Liberty face coverings include care homes and homelessness charities. As a staff member at the Sophie Hayes Foundation (our ‘Liberty, For Life’ charity partner) explained: “During these difficult times, in which wearing masks is becoming the norm in an abnormal world, every face covering donated by Liberty is a public show of hope for our women survivors – and a positive reminder they have not been forgotten.”