Breathe easier with these antiviral face masks

Beauty queen maker Jonas Gaffud and fashion designer Albert Andrada explore nanosilver technology.

Photo from Jonas Gaffud Instagram

The pandemic pushed many Filipino fashion designers to incorporate safety with style, from making protective suits to discovering new innovations in textile. New closet staples like couture face masks and non-woven cover-ups not only aim to sustain local businesses, but also to lessen everyone's fear of getting infected. 

For beauty queen maker Jonas Gaffud and fashion designer Albert Andrada, providing alternative products for protection is good, but giving people the ultimate shield against the virus is the best option. 

With their brand Aerian Essentials, the two have looked into the antibacterial properties of nanosilver technology on textiles in order to create a line of protective wearables. To make this happen, Gaffud and Andrada sought the help of Dr. Liu Hongjun, internationally recognized chemist and Singaporean green scientist who specializes in combining nanosilver with fabric. 

"Dr. Liu and I got connected through the efforts of Valerie Lim, Miss Universe Singapore 2011 and currently the national director of Miss Universe Singapore. They are fellow alumni at the National University of Singapore," Gaffud tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. "After Valerie and I agreed to work on something long-term instead of just a one-time donation, she introduced me to the patented nCamM material that Dr Liu invented. This is what eventually became the 'magic' behind Aerian Essentials."

Thanks to his knowledge about nanosilver in water filtration, Dr. Liu was able to combine nanosilver particles with cloth, and produce his nCamM textile in 2012.

Nanotechnology on fabric, particularly nanosilver, has been used on sportswear in the last few years. The textile helps reduce sweat odor caused by bacteria. A study made by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency in 2012 finds no specific health or environmental risk caused by nanosilver on clothing. The material is also seen as a sustainable step for garment production as pieces made from nanosilver fabric require less washing.

According to the study by nanotechnology experts Georgios Sotiriou and Sotiris Pratsinis, nanosilver's ability to prevent the spread of infection is due to its silver (Ag+) ions. The ions are capable of destroying compounds that contain sulfur and phosphorus, such as DNA and proteins present within bacteria, fungi, or viruses.

"The nanosilver fabric filters 99 percent of bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus," Andrada says. "It is a fabric that requires very low maintenance. You just have to wash it only in running water and dry in a well-ventilated place."

More than just creating modern style pieces, Gaffud and Andrada understand the need of providing products that are scientifically effective products that can lessen the anxieties many Filipinos are having as they brave the world to continue their lives.

"Knowing that the impact we can have is wide, I knew I had to pour all resources to make this happen," says Gaffud. "This is a very pivotal moment. A lot of people depend on us, we had to find a way to make a crisis an opportunity to do good, if not better."

Operating here in the Philippines, Aerian Essentials sources its material in the local market, but also imports other fabrics such as cotton and silk from countries like Egypt and China. 

To make nanosilver more suited to today's lifestyle, Andrada also sought the help of young designers. After doing a series of prototypes, the brand now has three major product lines (Premium, Luxe, and Classic), each coming in a variety of styles and sizes. The brand is also planning to take nanosilver technology into other protective wearables such as scarves and shawls, and even feature local textiles to give Filipino weavers an opportunity to make a living. 

"This pandemic made me work more to find something that would be more practical and, importantly, would answer the needs of everyone," Andrada adds. "With this, people will be seeing something essential nowadays—effective and fashionable protection. Something that you can use with pride and confidence."