Designer Mario De La Torre Provides Protective Masks for Farmworkers Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Mexican American designer Mario De La Torre is used to creating couture dresses that dazzle on the runway, but he and his team will now be sewing tens of thousands of masks to donate to farmworkers so they stay protected during the coronavirus pandemic. The fashion guru — who has dressed stars like Ashanti and Lauryn Hill — has teamed up with Justice for Migrant Women, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, and National Center for Farmworker Health to launch the campaign #Masks4Farmworkers.
“Farmworkers are the heartbeat of humanity,” De La Torre said in a statement. “Just like we can’t survive without our hearts and the food that nourishes us every day, we can’t survive without these heroes. Through the #Masks4Farmworkers campaign, we have an opportunity to show gratitude to farmworkers through our craft. I look forward to working in concert with other designers and sewists in this effort.”
The spokesperson for the campaign is actor Nicholas Gonzalez from ABC’s The Good Doctor, and other celebrities will also support on social media. "There are 2 to 3 million farmworkers who put themselves at risk by continuing to pick, pack, and plant the fruits and vegetables that families across America are depending on more than ever amid the COVID-19 crisis," states a press release. "Not only do farmworkers labor shoulder-to-shoulder with each other, they also can inhale pesticides or field dust, which can trigger asthma attacks and other serious respiratory problems — all of which puts them at an even greater risk during the coronavirus pandemic."
"Farmworkers earn poverty wages, many live in overcrowded housing, and they often do not have required soap and water in the fields in order to wash their hands," the release continues. "There is a fear that many workers could become sick and fear that they will not have access to the medical care that they need in order to get required treatment. Given that the overwhelming majority of farmworkers are undocumented or from mixed status families, many will not qualify for some of the most important benefits and protections being offered under the stimulus bills, including free COVID-19 testing and the stimulus checks."
Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, says these essential workers need our solidarity now more than ever. “Every single time we take a bite of food, we should think about the importance of our farmworkers," he said. "And now we need to do our part to protect them not just from COVID-19 but from the all the risks they deal with to nobly nourish us and our families.”
De La Torre — born and raised in South Central L.A. — celebrates hood influences, West Coast appeal, and Chicano culture in his work. The designer hopes this campaign will motivate others in the fashion industry to join in and make protective masks to donate to people in need. To support the effort by sewing or contributing materials for masks, click here.
For more information on COVID-19, please visit the official website of the CDC.