A Joburg-based entrepreneur and tattoo shop owner has created history by becoming the first person in the world to create a Covid-19 protective shirt.
Andrew King, the owner of renowned tattoo parlour M&K Before Ink, in Edenvale this week unveiled his creation. King and his team have been hard at work for the last six months coming up with the unique Pure Air shirt.
Having realised the long-term economic effects that Covid-19 and the lockdown would have on his tattoo business – and more importantly on his employees – King and his team got to work on designing the protective shirt.
“The difficulties that the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic aftermath placed on my business was shattering – to say the least,” King told The Saturday Star.
“We saw that mask-culture was going to be around for some time and I was further inspired by my daughter who kept misplacing her mask. I thought… well… if it’s on her she’ll never lose it again.”
The Pure Air shirt has an ISO14664 certified filter that can be optionally inserted into the neck of the high-quality, medium weight, cotton top. The design can be worn as an outer garment or as a vest.
“The shirt is designed with a built-in protective neck piece which is easily pulled up over the face,” said King.
“The triple-layered protective neck-piece houses a removable filter which provides additional protection against any socially transmitted airborne particles.”
The shirt is made up of cotton which is breathable but non-transmissive, says King.
“It has been a costly process, as any project of this nature would be. But we are starting to see some traction and the impact on fellow safety has been greatly rewarding.”
King and his team began designing the Pure Air shirt in the first week of April. He recognised the regularity of mask culture, as well as the importance of creating an effective, user-friendly product.
Further creative fuel arose from the youngsters in the family who were struggling with the discomfort and inconvenience of the masks.
“The initial development took some time to get right but we are very happy with what we’ve been able to achieve. Things like safety regulations, fit, comfort, breathability all had to be carefully considered.”
While masks have proved to be uncomfortable for most people, King hopes his shirt will be easier to wear. “I don’t think the severe circumstances we’ve seen will ever amount to comfort,” said King.
“However, the Pure Air team has undergone an extensive product development process to ensure our shirts are as comfortable for the wearer as possible”.
Not only is the shirt comfortable, said King, but it will also keep you protected. “The protective part of the shirt has a standard three-layered defence that is comfortable, breathable, and easily adjustable.
“Further protection comes from the MF15 filter, which is an additional piece that can be inserted into a fitted pouch within the face-covering part of the shirt. This then acts as a twoway filter. So, if you’re feeling poorly you won’t transmit anything to those around you and vice versa.”
He says the removable (highrisk only) MF15 filter is compiled of the same material used in highvelocity air-conditioning units in operating theatres.
“This stops particles containing Covid-19 or any other airborne particles from passing through. As well as providing great efficiency against the ingestion of such droplets.”
“Apart from safety, I’d say the greatest benefit is convenience. If you’re going out for the day into a space where you know you’ll be needing your mask – the Pure Air product is on you, and ready when you need it.”
King utilised the creative work of his tattoo artists to come up with a design for the shirt. “I am not a tattoo artist – I’m merely a tattoo shop owner. But I am surrounded by them. I put down a simple sketch and they were able to come up with a design that a clothing manufacturer would understand and could produce.”
Designed and manufactured in South Africa, the Pure Air shirts range from R450 to R600 and kids as young as 4 years old can wear them.
“We wanted to bring the shirts to the public affordably,” said King. “Our ladies and men’s shirts range from R450 to R650 and the kids range starts at R420 to R550.
“We are also considering wholesale opportunities.” King expects the shirts to be in demand for a long time despite the number of Covid-19 cases dropping in South Africa.
Pure Air shirts are available via M&K Before Ink website.