[UPDATE] August 18, 2020 6:00 a.m. EST: As promised, Uniqlo's AIRism masks will finally release in the U.S. You can buy at all Uniqlo stores as well as online on Monday, August 24. Revisit our original story below.
Uniqlo's much-desired AIRism face masks released in Japan today, June 19, resulting in ticketed queues outside stores that one might usually associate with a hype sneaker release.
It wasn't just the brick and mortar locations that enjoyed heavy footfall, but the retailer's website, which eventually crashed because of the traffic load. #AIRism, too, began trending on Japanese Twitter as people discussed the coveted gear.
Uniqlo was initially hesitant to branch into PPE production but eventually acquiesced such was the consumer demand. On first thought, an AIRism mask composed of stretchy, breathable fabric (the same kind used in its AIRism underwear range) might sound ill-suited to stopping virus-laden watery droplets from passing through, right? Well, fear not, for these bad boys are designed with a three-layer structure, including a high-performance filter with 99 percent (BFE) Bacterial Filtration Efficiency. It's said this filter blocks water droplets, bacteria particles, virus particles, and pollen, while another resists 90 percent of ultraviolet rays. A non-woven fabric of cotton wicks away sweat and helps the wearer stay cool.
"We would like to continue providing masks to many of our customers," a Uniqlo spokesperson said, adding that the company plans on producing 500,000 masks per week. An international roll-out was also confirmed.
The masks are available in small, medium, and large sizes arrive in packs of three. Priced at 990 yen ($9.30). they can be washed up to 20 times and are fast drying. Stay posted for news on a wider roll-out, and don't forget to social distance if you're queuing!