UpWrap facemasks • Interview with Amber Testino
Solidarity doesn’t stop and each one of us can make a difference.
UpWrap is mobilizing to make and distribute fabric facemasks in response to COVID-19 emergency and we could give our assistance.
We interviewed Amber Testino, Art Partner’s managing director, to discover more about this beautiful and meaningful project.
How ‘UpWrap facemasks’ came to life? What is the aim of it?
UpWrap started from a life long obsession with giving beautifully wrapped gifts for all occasions, followed by an inevitable regret about the unneeded wrapping waste left behind.
Our mission was to provide a sustainable, ethical, and luxury alternative to traditional, single use gift-wrap through unique fabric wrapping made locally and by hand from excess fabric remnants. We launched during the last festive season, and received an incredible response from our community. Materials were generously donated by brands including Peter Pilotto, Mary Katranzou, The Dangerfields and Rokh, among others. Customers were delighted by the novelty and beauty of the wrapping and were pleased to be part of reducing waste rather than creating new waste.
In response to the health crisis, UpWrap pivoted its resources and applied its sustainable philosophy to produce fabric facemasks. Through May, 100% of mask sales at UpWrap.org will be donated to supporting the production of free masks for organizations in need. To this end, UpWrap joined forces with Art Partner to help coordinate brands donating fabric, volunteer makers working at home and organizations needing masks.
Besides washing hands and respecting social distancing, wearing a facemask is an essential way to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Twenty five percent of all cases are asymptomatic, so wearing a mask means we are protecting others, especially the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, as well as protecting ourselves. And while we know that wearing a mask is important, at the same time we are conscious of the shortages frontline healthcare workers are experiencing. Leaving N95 and disposable surgical masks for these heroes is an important part of our mission in creating fabric face masks.
What does UpWrap need? Who can contribute and how?
Each one of us has the power to make a difference. While we are all isolated in our homes, we hope to provide a way for people to come together and contribute in any way they are able: Makers, young and old to help sew, creatives to help spread the message #IWearMyMaskFor and help to change attitudes towards wearing a mask, brands to support with fabric remnants, this is why we have put out our ‘call to arms’ asking anyone and everyone from our community to join us and have set up a structure to support the process.
Please reach us at UpWrap.Org or DM @ Up.Wrap if you are 1) an organization who need masks, 2) a maker who would like to sew face masks to be donated to at-risk communities, and 3) a brand who has fabric to donate.
We want to take a moment to thank the brands who have committed support so far Isabel Marant, Simone Rocha, Sunspel, Cucumber Clothing, Lucinda Chambers, Caroline Charles, Lot 78, The Dangerfields, Dawei, IGBONY, and of course to all of our wonderful volunteer sewing teams !!
It is our aim to help bring our community together through this grassroots effort — brands, individuals and anyone who believes in the power of fashion and creativity to spread positivity and make a difference!
UpWrap face masks are washable and reusable. Thanks to a virtuous circle, over-stock or off-cuts of fabrics are regenerated into beautiful protective masks. What role does sustainability play in this project? Is there a particular attention also to the aesthetics of the masks?
Sustainability is at the core of everything we do at UpWrap. The idea that unused fabrics and leftover off-cuts can be repurposed locally and given another life to help save lives is quite uplifting in today’s otherwise difficult news cycle.
And who is to say that facemasks cannot be good looking ?! Sustainability, social responsibility and aesthetics can go hand in hand, and our belief is that fashion can help shape social attitudes towards wearing masks as a means of protecting ourselves and others, while freeing up the supply chain of medical-grade facemasks for health care workers .
One of the interesting aspects of this project is that it involves brands, makers and creatives, creating a community in which everyone can make the difference donating time and expertise. It’s a project based on the power of gift-giving. What’s the common ground between fashion and solidarity?
It’s true that fashion has been part of the problem of waste and excessive carbon footprint. But fashion has also always been this very special community of creatives, artists and people with a shared passion of expressing themselves, inspiring others and making beauty. There is an exciting possibility to emerge from this crisis even closer to the goal of “Making Fashion Circular,” and we are honored to be a small part of that process and that transition. UpWrap’s focus on sustainability grows out of this community and this possibility for fashion to be part of the solution. In the last 18 months, the fashion industry has shown its solidarity in making meaningful, actionable changes to create a sustainable future.
It is often in times of crisis when communities and people show their true colors. Now with COVID-19, the fashion community has come together again to support each other and those in need on so many levels. What UpWrap and Art Partner are doing is inspired by this spirit of solidarity. Everyone can make an impact through grassroots efforts in their own communities, and that is very empowering.
In a meaningful open letter to WWD Giorgio Armani wrote: “This crisis is also an opportunity to restore value to authenticity: enough with fashion as pure communication […]The moment we are going through is turbulent, but it also offers us the unique opportunity to fix what is wrong, to regain a more human dimension. It’s nice to see that in this sense we are all united. ” The designer reaffirmed the need for change, a realization of the fashion system. Is this the basis for a real change? Are we facing a new Humanism?
As challenging as this time is, I’m very optimistic about the opportunity we have right now to think deeply about how we will come back in general and also as a an industry.
Exactly what that looks like will differ from family to family and from business to business, but I think what will be different will be a fundamental shift in our guiding principles. A few months ago Art Partner participated in the Flourishing Diversity Summit, a gathering of indigenous leaders from all over the world hosted by University College of London. The Mamos, a group of elders from Colombia, spoke at the opening and their philosophy really boiled down to the fact that humans and the planet are one, and that everything we do must maintain balance.
This idea of balance is reflected in the work of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular program. Their organization is dedicated to shifting from a linear economy to circular one. This isn’t only philosophy; they are concretely working through projects like “The Jeans Redesign” to rework supply chains, extend the lifecycle of products, and to shift values about clothing through communication and visual messaging. The World Land Trust is another wonderful organization that offers businesses and individuals an opportunity to commit to balancing their carbon footprint. They have an easy to use carbon tracker that enables a person or business to measure their footprint and to identify ways to lower it. What cannot be lowered can be off set through the purchase of carbon credits, 100% of which go to creating and maintaining natural reserves. WLT is a charity so contributions are tax deductible. I’m proud to say that Art Partner has achieved Carbon Balanced Status for 2020 and we are ever more committed to this path of balance as our new normal.
During the first session of Fashion Global Conversations Marc Jacobs said: “Creating isn’t done in a vacuum or a bubble. It might be done within the bubble of our fashion world, but it is the stimulation of the entire world that is the catalyst, that gives us the drive and the energy and the passion to create. ” Art Partner represents the most influential talents across the fields of photography, film, creative direction, styling, and beauty. How their creativity is evolving in this uncertain and unprecedented time? Are they finding new methods of working?
There has never quite been a time like this where creative problem solving has lead to truly dynamic and transformative work. Across each division, we are implementing new ways of supporting our clients’ needs from remote shooting and consulting to post-production solutions, often leveraging the latest technologies. Interestingly enough, what is now considered a requirement — remote shooting with robotics, shooting via zoom, or manipulating assets in post-production — has been in our wheelhouse for years across editorial and commercial projects and is now something we and the artists are working on not only for traditional communication content but also for fashion shows as they move into a digital space. For us, this is a time to flex some of the skills we’ve already had, which were perhaps less known before.
Lockdowns and self-isolation present challenges but they also allow us to reflect on our lives in a new way, giving us the time that we usually don’t have. I am sure you are used to working at a high pace: what does slowdown mean to you?
Slowdown for me means not rushing everywhere (there is no where to go!). It means having longer and deeper conversations about things rather than making decisions and jumping to the next thing on the list. It has meant taking a step back and seeing the forest, not only the trees. “Transformation” is a word that comes up a lot in business conversations right now. Slowdown allows time to dream about how we want things to be, not how they have to be because that is how they always were.
The same is also true on a personal level; actually taking time to think of what is working and what do we want to change? For me personally that has meant playing more, doing manual things more. I have seen one movie and zero series since we arrived! Sadly, play is not usually something I do a lot of, but lately we have well doing Zoom quizzes, playing Backgammon, or playing paddle (if it’s not pouring rain). We have also started making beaded necklaces, cooking (well, Giovanni’s started cooking and I give a lot of moral support), and we all helped to plant this year’s vegetable garden. Slowing down has also allowed me to pursue the UpWrap “call to arms” to make and distribute fabric facemasks. I am not usually one to be a grass roots activist or volunteer, so it has been a new and inspiring experience for me to connect with so many generous and caring people through this project.
Marina Testino wearing UpWrap facemask
Solidarity does not stop and each of us can make a difference.
UpWrap is mobilizing to make and distribute fabric masks in response to the COVID-19 emergency and we can make our contribution.
We interviewed Amber Testino, managing director of art partner, to investigate this significant project.
How was “UpWrap face masks” born? What is your mission?
UpWrap was born from the obsession of a lifetime for the most wonderful gift packs for every occasion, which is usually followed by the inevitable displeasure when they are wasted and thrown away.
Our mission was to provide a luxury alternative but at the same time also sustainable and ethical to traditional disposable envelopes and paper, replacing them with a very original fabric made locally and by hand starting from scraps and leftovers. We launched the initiative last Christmas and it was received with great enthusiasm. The materials were generously donated by brands such as Peter Pilotto, Mary Katranzou, The Dangerfields, Rokh and many others. While customers appreciated the novelty and beauty of the fabrics used to package gifts and were happy to be part of an initiative dedicated to reducing waste rather than creating others.
In response to the current health crisis, UpWrap has used its resources and applied its philosophy of sustainability to produce fabric masks. During the month of May, the entire proceeds from the sales of masks purchased on UpWrap.org will be used for the production of as many devices to be donated free of charge to the organizations that need them. To this end, UpWrap has chosen to collaborate with Art Partner to better coordinate the donations of fabrics by fashion brands, volunteers who work from home and organizations that need masks.
In addition to washing your hands and maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask is one of the essential methods of trying to counteract the spread of the coronavirus. 25% of cases are asymptomatic, so wearing it means protecting others, especially the elderly and people with pre-existing diseases, as well as themselves. And although we know how important the use of the mask is, we are aware of their scarcity, especially for healthcare professionals. So, making fabric masks allows us to leave the disposable surgical ones and the N95s to doctors and nurses – our heroes. And this represents an important aspect of our mission.
What does UpWrap need? Who can contribute and how?
Each of us has the power to make a difference. We are all isolated in our homes, and we hope to give people the opportunity to feel united and help improve the situation, everyone as they can: tailors and seamstresses of all ages helping to sew, creatives by spreading the message #IWearMyMaskFor and helping to change the attitude towards the use of the mask and the brands by offering fabric scraps and surpluses. This is why we launched our “call to arms”, inviting people and the community to set up a structure to support the whole process.
If you are 1) an organization that needs masks, 2) a tailor / a seamstress or you are able and able to sew masks to donate to communities at risk or 3) a brand with fabrics to offer, we kindly ask you to contact us on UpWrap.Org or send a DM to @ Up.Wrap.
In this regard, we would like to thank those brands that have committed themselves to offering their support so far – Isabel Marant, Simone Rocha, Sunspel, Cucumber Clothing, Lucinda Chambers, Caroline Charles, Lot 78, The Dangerfields, Dawei, IGBONY and, of course , even all our fantastic volunteers and their sewing skills !!
The purpose through this voluntary initiative is to bring together the community – brands, individuals and anyone who believes in the power of fashion and creativity to spread positivity and make a difference!
UpWrap masks are washable and reusable. Thanks to a virtuous circle, surpluses and remnants of fabric are transformed into splendid protective masks. What role does sustainability play in this project? Do you pay particular attention to aesthetics?
Sustainability is the basis of everything at UpWrap. The idea that unused fabrics, scraps and remnants can be reconverted locally, to become something that can save lives, is today a message of hope in what is otherwise a rather gloomy cycle of news.
And who says that the masks cannot also be attractive from an aesthetic point of view? Sustainability, social responsibility and aesthetics can go hand in hand. Furthermore, we believe that fashion can contribute to influencing the attitude towards the use of the mask as a means of protecting oneself and others, allowing the industry specialized in medical devices to concentrate on production for medical and hospital staff.
One of the most interesting aspects of this project is that it involves brands, stylists and creatives, giving life to a community where everyone can make a difference, making their time and knowledge available. It is a project based on the power of the gift. What is the common ground between fashion and solidarity?
It is true that fashion is part of the problem of waste and the high amount of carbon emissions. But fashion has always represented that very special community made up of creatives, artists and people who share a passion for individual expression, inspiring others and creating beauty. This crisis offers us the opportunity to get closer to the goal of “Make Fashion Circular” and we are honored to be part of this process, even if in a minimal way, and contribute to change. UpWrap’s commitment to sustainability stems precisely from this community and the possibility that fashion now has to be part of the solution. Over the past 18 months, the sector has shown solidarity in introducing concrete and significant changes towards a sustainable future.
It is often precisely in times of crisis that people and communities show themselves for what they really are. Now, with COVID-19, fashion is mobilizing to support each other and offer help to those who need it. What UpWrap and Art Partner are doing is inspired by that sense of solidarity. We can all do our part by participating in local initiatives. And this makes us aware of how much power we have.
In an important open letter to WWD, Giorgio Armani said: “This crisis is also an opportunity to restore value to authenticity: enough with fashion as pure communication […]. The moment we are going through is turbulent, but it also offers us the opportunity to repair what is wrong, to regain a more human dimension. And it’s nice to see, in this sense, that we are all united “. The stylist reaffirmed the need for change and to realign everything. Is this the basis for a revolution? Are we facing a new Humanism?
As difficult as the period is, I am very optimistic about the opportunity we have now to reflect on how we will emerge from the crisis in general, and as a sector.
The concrete way in which this will happen will be different from family to family and from one company to another, but I would say that there will be a change in our guiding principles. A few months ago, Art Partner attended the Flourishing Diversity Summit, a meeting between representatives of indigenous communities around the world, organized by the University College of London. The Mamo, a group of spiritual authorities originating from Colombia, spoke during the opening speech presenting their philosophy, according to which Man and Planet are a unity and that everything we do must maintain that balance .
This idea of balance is found in the mission of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and their program ‘Make Fashion Circular ’. Their organization is concerned with promoting the transition from a linear to a circular economy. This does not remain a single theoretical foundation, on the contrary, they are working on concrete projects such as “The Jeans Redesign” to revise the production chains, extend the life cycle of the products and modify the values associated with clothing through communication and visual messages. The World Land Trust is another important organization that offers companies and individuals the opportunity to rebalance their carbon emissions. They have a very easy to use emissions tracker that allows you to measure your emissions and then identify ways to reduce them. Those that cannot be reduced can be compensated through the purchase of carbon credits destined 100% for the creation and maintenance of natural reserves. The WLT is a charity for which donations are deductible. I am proud to announce that Art Partner has obtained the Carbon Balanced Status for 2020 and we are even more determined to continue on this path going forward making it our practice.
During the first session of the Fashion Global Conversations, Marc Jacobs said: “The creative process does not take place under vacuum conditions or inside a bubble. It can be realized within the bubble of our fashion universe but it is the stimulus that comes from the whole world to act as a catalyst, to give us the push, the energy and the passion to create “. Art Partner represents the most influential talents of photography and video, including creative directors, stylists and beauty artists. How is their creativity evolving in this period of great uncertainty and unprecedented? Are they experimenting with new ways of working?
We have never witnessed a time like this in which the resolution of problems and difficulties of a creative nature gave birth to such dynamic and transformative works and projects. Within each division, we are implementing new ways to meet the needs of our customers, from photographic and remote consulting services, to post-production solutions, all leveraging on the latest technologies. The interesting thing is that what is now considered a necessary requirement, such as remote photography with robotic systems, services via Zoom or post-production manipulation resources are part of the tools available to us for years, both for projects editorial and commercial and now this is something that both we and the artists we represent are working not only for the contents dedicated to traditional communication but also for the fashion shows as the transition towards digital operates. For us, this is a time to exhibit some of those skills and know-how that we already possess and that perhaps were less known in the past.
Lockdown and isolation they present challenges but they also allow us to reflect on life in a new way, giving us that extra time we didn’t have before. I am sure you are used to working at a high pace: what does it mean to slow down from your point of view?
Slowing down means not having to run from one side to the other (now we can’t go anywhere!). It means talking longer and deeper than making a decision quickly and then moving on to the next point on your agenda. It also meant taking a step back to see the forest in its entirety and not just the trees. “Transformation” is one of those words that frequently emerges in business conversations right now. Slowing down gives you time to dream how you want things to be and not to do them in a certain way because they have always been like this.
The same also applies to private life, where I had the opportunity to reflect on what works and what I would like to change instead. For me, personally, this meant playing more and doing manual things. I have seen a movie but not a TV series since we arrived! Unfortunately, I often don’t have time to play, but recently, I do a quiz on Zoom, I play Backgammon or paddle (if it doesn’t rain!). We started creating chains, cooking (or rather, Giovanni started, I take care of offering moral support) and we all contributed to cultivating the garden. Slowing down also allowed me to take care of UpWrap’s “call to arms” to produce and distribute masks. As a rule, I am not the type of person who activates on a voluntary or popular basis of this kind, so it was a new and motivating experience to get in touch with so many generous and selfless people thanks to this initiative.