Cofunders of Viral Shield, Vidiya Amrit Khan and Samanzar Shama Khan on the high-performance fabric mask, it’s competitive advantage over other masks in the market and the spirit of social business behind this venture
WHAT INTRIGUED TWO OF THE LEADING COMPANIES OF THE COUNTRY TO JOIN HANDS TO PRODUCE MASKS?
The history of both our family companies have been intertwined with the rise of industrialization in Bangladesh. A. K. Khan & Co. Ltd and Desh Garments Ltd. have always been synonymous with quality, integrity and pioneering collaborations. When the world was hit with the corona virus pandemic it seemed the perfect opportunity to be a part of the solution by pooling our resources and fulfilling our lifelong dream of working together to have a social impact in our country.
HOW DID THE NAME “VIRAL SHIELD” COME INTO BEING?
To be honest, the name, ‘Viral Shield’, came about instinctively. Ever since the pandemic started, we were inundated with words which were synonyms with ‘virus’ and ‘protection’. Subsequently, ‘V’ and ‘S’ are the first letters of our names. Hence, it really just took us a few moments to think of the name ‘VS Masks’, which has both our initials and a very clear definition of the purpose our masks serve.
VIRAL SHEILD IS A HIGH-PERFORMANCE FABRIC MASK. PLEASE ELABORATE ON THE HIGH-PERFORMANCE ASPECTS OF THE MASK IN COMPARISON TO OTHER MASKS AVAILABLE IN THE INDUSTRY?
Knowing how critical this sector would become, we knew that we had to create a product that would meet international standards. Produced with the technical consultancy of United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and following the guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the Directorate General of Drug Administration of Bangladesh (DGDA), VS Masks have been tested to the European Testing Standard AFNOR and certified by SGS Laboratories as a High-Performance Fabric Mask.
They are constructed intelligently with high grade technical specifications and surpass the testing parameters set for the highest level of fabric masks. The three-layered fabric technology offers very high filtration efficiency, providing the user with increased protection and very high breathability which provides comfort to the user. The masks are washable and reusable and have been tested and found to retain its original protection and efficacy even after a minimum of twenty-five washes. We are proud to have come up with something that is stylish and unique but blows the competition out of the water just by performance alone.
VIRAL SHIELD IS A UNIQUE MASK WHICH COMES UP WITH DIFFERENT LINES THINKING ABOUT DIFFERENT CONSUMER GROUPS. PLEASE ELABORATE ON HOW THE LINES WERE CONCEPTUALIZED AND IMPLEMENTED.
We have always loved the world of fashion and style. Luckily enough for us, we have had the good fortune to live in London for almost a decade, being exposed to the way in which both luxury and high street brands developed and adapted themselves to the changing times. We also found comfort and style by mixing up both luxury and affordable brands. Blending the two together, what we wanted to create for our customers was also a mask that was both luxurious and affordable. VS Masks currently has two lines. The ‘Luxury Line’ that is made of woven fabrics and the ‘Sports Line’ that is made up of knit fabrics. We have three different shapes, the Double Dart, the Box Pleat and the Olson.
Further to which we then have two different adjustable strap styles, the Ear Loop (EL) and the Head Harness (HH). The most unique feature of our adjustable straps is that, unlike any other mask in Bangladesh, we have used a ring and a slider on the elastic itself to adjust the fit of the mask. This also came about to address the unattractive design of the excess elastic loop flapping behind the ears. The HH style has been specially designed for those who wear a completely covered Niquab and/or Hijab, whereby in many cases, they cannot loop the straps behind their ears. Moreover, it was also designed to take pressure felt behind the ear, a common complaint of most mask wearers. VS Masks also comes in 4different sizes, in order to cater to the entire population of ages 4 and above. We have also taken immense pleasure to create our own logo and pattern in order to create a new approach to the item which has now become one of the most important items of garments of our daily lives.
AS A SOCIAL BUSINESS, WHAT’S YOUR VISION WITH VS? HOW DO YOU PLAN TO MAKE THIS VISION A REALITY?
It seems to have become common practice in the industry to cut corners and piecing together something that is cheap to manufacture and serve the masses simply to amass massive profits. Our goal for VS Mask was to develop an affordable solution without compromising on quality and establish this venture as a social business. Our vision is to have VS become emblematic with style and luxury, while remaining affordable and accessible for everyone. As Bangladesh is entering a new chapter as a middle-income economy, the wider segment of the population are becoming quality conscious while remaining price sensitive. Being able to create a product that fits perfectly into this market segment, has made our vision a reality.
THE VIRUS IS NOT GOING AWAY ANY TIME SOON AND THE NEED FOR MASKS WILL REMAIN AS WE HAVE EMBRACED THE NEW NORMAL. WITH THAT IN MIND, DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO EXPORT THE MASKS? DO YOU HAVE INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATIONS IN MIND?
At the moment, as a growing business, we are happy to cater to any demand for our VS Masks as long as we can maintain the high quality of our masks while giving the protection we have promised. We have also had the good fortune to export our customized bespoke masks to companies abroad, some global charitable institutions and of course, cater to the retail and corporate demands here in Bangladesh.
Model: Munjarin Abony, Al-Fahad Bari
Masks: Viral Shield
Styling & Choreography:Vidiya Amrit Khan, Samanzar Shama Khan
Make up & Hair: AURA Beauty Lounge
Photography: Eivan Sardar
Fashion Coordinator: Mitu