Looking Back at the Year of Masks

December 16, 2020

At the start of the year, none of us could have predicted how much face masks would be a topic of everyday conversation. Many of us in the promotional apparel industry jumped into the new year like ones before: wondering what customers would be most excited to see and curious which trends would boost business the most. Little did any of us know that one of the most “popular” trends of the years would be face masks.

Face masks, scrubs and other personal protection equipment (PPE) emerged as some of the most in-demand items this year. Many of us quickly pivoted to develop and offer a variety of PPE for a rapidly changing world. As we look back on 2020, we get a unique perspective on what was certainly a unique year.

SanMar Face Mask Moments From 2020

Mask Kits for DIY Masks
When the need for face masks first took off in the spring, we knew many people wanted to help while also wanting to keep business moving forward as usual. We launched the Port Authority® Mask Kit, which included the materials to make 50 two-ply, cotton masks. From amateurs to professionals, anyone with a sewing machine could download instructions and watch a short video to begin. At a time when there were too few masks, this was an innovative way for people to help out.

100 Million Masks
SanMar was a founding member of a U.S. consortium of apparel and textile companies and we committed to manufacturing 100 million face masks. We shifted production at our Tennessee and Honduras factories from making t-shirts to making face coverings. We were proud that from the cotton to the sewing, SanMar’s mask manufacturing supported thousands of much-needed American jobs.

One of Our Originals
Comfortable, reusable, and treated with an antimicrobial solution, the Port Authority® Cotton Knit Face Mask was one of our first to hit the market. This mask was simple, straightforward and reliable. What made it especially exciting was the incorporation of Sciessent’s Agion® treatment (Sciessent is a U.S.-based global provider of antimicrobial solutions). This original mask was three-ply, made of 100% cotton, and machine-washable.

Adding to The Mask-Family
Understandably, as masks became more of a regular part of life for some people, the demand for options and specialty styles increased as well. Brands like District® introduced a mask for adults and youth, Allmade® released a mask made of organic cotton, and Sport-Tek®® offered a mask ideal for performance activities.

Decoration Innovation
Adding decoration to masks was a natural next step for people to still feel like individuals while covering their faces. With that came the need for additional tips and tricks to aid decorators as they learned to decorate countless masks. We created decoration placement downloads and interviewed our Decorator & Digital Solutions team to ensure we provided customers with the best insight into how to decorate masks. From pad printing to screen printing, DTG to heat transfer, it was essential we supported customers as they embarked into new territory.

To view all our PPE offerings, including the wide range of face masks available, visit our Personal Protection product page. And be sure to connect with us online at Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram.