The future of fashion is anti-viral clothing — but health experts aren’t buying it.
A few large clothing brands are currently debuting new lines of apparel made with “virus-fighting” materials as part of their new marketing strategies in the age of COVID-19.
Denim brand Diesel is currently promoting an antiviral fabric for its jeans, a material said to “physically halt 99% of any viral activity” and slated to launch in 2021. The brand teamed up with Swedish company Polygiene for the garment protection technology, which, they say, can kill off viral activity within two hours of contact between pathogens and fabric.
Polygiene’s ViralOff is said to safeguard against viruses including COVID-19 and “works by interacting with key proteins, inhibiting the virus from attaching to textile fibers,” according to its website. It’s made with the active ingredient biocide and a “reaction mass” of titanium dioxide and silver chloride, and the company says it can be used on any clothing product, including face masks. However, a disclaimer on its website says a face mask “will never stop viruses from going through it, but we can ensure viruses don’t live in and on it for long." The ViralOff treatment won’t come off in the wash, the company said.
Research has shown that the most common way people contract the coronavirus is through respiratory droplets in the air, when someone coughs or sneezes, and doctors say they don’t anticipate the antiviral fabric technology to be that vital to prevention.
“I’m not so sure that a fabric that kills [a] virus — if it does — is that much more useful than spraying a little alcohol on it, if you’re so concerned that someone breathed on your jeans. It’s about what gets into your respiratory system,” Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist and pulmonologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told Fox Business Tuesday. "[It's] maybe a nice marketing strategy, but I’m not sure it has utility in mitigating the spread of the virus because we know that’s not the way it happens. If you wore their antiviral jeans and jacket and didn’t wear a mask, what good is it?”
Diesel did not immediately return a FOX Business request for comment.
Still, a number of brands have launched clothes that claim to fight off viruses. Similarly to Diesel, London-based menswear company Apposta is also promoting the fabric used in its dress shirts as able to prevent “hosting bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19” and “reduces the likelihood and speed of contaminations by destroying bacteria and viruses on contact,” according to Business of Fashion.