SF Bag Maker Turns T-Shirts From Bay Area Sports Teams Into Protective Masks

NBC Universal, Inc.

Bay Area sports fans have been known to don their favorite team’s merch in pretty much every way imaginable, but soon some will be wearing it as a whole different accessory altogether - face masks. 

San Francisco’s Timbuk2, known for its messenger bags and backpacks, is taking T-shirts donated by Bay Area pro sports teams and transforming them into protective masks for local community organizations. 

Joe Rosato Jr.
Volunteers in Timbuk2’s Mission District warehouse cut-up donated T-shirts from Bay Area sport teams to be transformed into protective masks.

The project team-up Timbuk2 and NBC Sports Bay Area, which helped connect the bag company with pro sports teams like the 49ers, A’s, Sharks, Warriors, Giants, San Jose Earthquakes, and Sacramento Kings, who all donated a bounty of T-shirts. 

“We can get about six masks out of a t-shirt, four bandanas out of a T-shirt so we’re kind of doing both,” said Michelle Nadeau, Timbuk2’s head of marketing.

The donated T-shirts are emblazoned with team logos and designs. The San Francisco Giants donated shirts showing the players impersonating the Beatles famous Abbey Road album cover. 

The Mission District-based Timbuk2 shut down production amid the Covid-19 quarantine orders. In place of the company’s workers, company administrators and volunteers are manning the sewing machines turning out the colorful masks. 

In the vast warehouse housing the company’s headquarters and custom manufacturing room, the factory manager sat at a sewing machine near the company’s graphic designer and a volunteer who found about the campaign through a neighborhood bar. It’s a scene of ‘all hands on deck.’

“It is kind of nice,” Nadeau said, “get out of the house, and work on a sewing machine is a great release.” 

Volunteer makes masks
Joe Rosato Jr.
A volunteer at Timbuk2’s Mission District warehouse helps transform donated sport T-shirts into protective masks.

The makeshift volunteer workforce is making 50,000 masks which it’s donating to local groups like Bay Area Community Services. The designs incorporate some of the company’s materials used to make its durable messenger bags as the trim, with the sport T-shirts are used as the main double-ply section. 

Amid the din of sewing machines and devices that cut the shirts into strips, company designer Matteo Paduano sat sewing new mask prototypes, using pipe cleaners to form the top of the mask. 

“It fuels me,” Paduano said, “I think just being able to help and feel like I’m contributing to something good, that’s what matters right now.”

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