Today, Salomon, the four-season mountain brand, announced that it will shift from prototyping gear in its Annecy, France headquarters to developing reusable, non-medical grade face masks to fight the spread of COVID-19. The Annecy Design Center (ADC) is home to specialists in textile production who typically work with athletes to design prototypes of the latest in Salomon’s gear, footwear and apparel product ranges, said the company. Now, the decades of experience in the building will go toward developing protective face masks that will be used to protect against the spread of COVID-19, with the goal of delivering 90,000 from April through June.
“On a normal morning, we might make a prototype shoe for Kilian Jornet to summit Everest and follow it with an afternoon of designing sports bras for our running range,” says Jean-Noel Thevenoud, manager of the prototype lab in Annecy. “This is a much different project for us, but the team here has been eager to help since the crisis started. When we got the call last week, everyone was ready to dive right in. We are happy to have a way to contribute and to be able to use our team’s skills to help in these times.”
Faced with the shortage of protective masks in the country, the French government recently launched a national appeal to the French textile industry for aid. A French company, Chamatex, proposed a solution—washable and reusable textile multilayer masks—and reached out to Salomon to move forward with production due to the brand’s existing infrastructure and eagerness expressed by the brand to produce prototype gear to fight the pandemic. The non-medical grade masks are certified by the DGA (Direction Général de l’Armement) and will be intended primarily for French administrations and industrialists in all sectors of the business community in the near future.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world these days, and we’re all doing our best to make the most of tough situations and help with whatever means we have available to us,” said Becky Marcelliano, outdoor marketing manager at Salomon in North America. “Individually, we all understand that the best way to help is by staying home. As a company, we are trying to contribute with whatever means we have available to us, whether that means donating shoes to hospital staff here in the US and across France, partnering with our athletes to raise money or completely rewriting the script for our prototype lab to develop masks. Locally, we are also working daily on some other ways to help those in need until we’re safe, healthy and able to play outside again.”