Chaco Is Now Making Face Masks in Michigan

Chaco’s Michigan-based factory is typically used to repair and customize the brand’s sandals. As the number of coronavirus cases rises in the state, the Wolverine World Wide outdoor label is now producing face masks and other critical equipment for health-care workers.

After Michigan issued a stay-at-home order this week, the brand said it moved to retrofit its ReChaco space to produce the masks, and is also exploring specs for the production of gowns and aprons. It sourced patterns from local health-care systems and collected raw materials from Wolverine.

“We at Chaco are doers. It’s not in our team’s DNA to stand by when we have the opportunity and resources to take action,” said Lisa Kondrat, director of operations for the ReChaco factory. “We want our skills and machinery to be useful in this crisis.

Chaco plans to share its patterns and sourcing leads as a resource for other companies and individuals looking to contribute during the pandemic.

In addition to the factory effort, the brand will deploy its ReChaco mobile repair factory bus to make supplies. The bus was  developed to customize and repair sandals during the “2020 Roving Repairs Summer Tour.” It is outfitted with sewing machines, hot knives and other equipment for making and mending sandals.

The bus is stationed in Portland, Ore., and staffers will work to make personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospital systems in Hood River, Oregon and other locations surrounding the Portland area.

“Our goal here is to inspire quick and creative action from other brands and companies in our space. Chaco and Wolverine Worldwide aren’t the only companies with people and machinery positioned to help in this crisis – everyone has something they can offer,” said Josh Weichhand, marketing director at Chaco “This is both critical aid for our communities and an opportunity to empower our teams to lead, and we know other brands with similar resources in the outdoor industry, footwear, and fashion space will also rise to the occasion.”

New Balance said Friday it will make produce face masks at its Lawrence, Mass.-based manufacturing facility. Nike is also prototyping face shields for nurses and doctors as it continues to work with Oregon Health & Science University to assist health-care teams.

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