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Japan’s Uniqlo makes masks from underwear

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a Uniqlo store in the Myeongdong shopping area in Seoul, South Korea on October 22, 2019. REUTERS / Heo Ran

TOKYO (Reuters) ̵

1; Japanese casual clothing chain Uniqlo, owned by Fast Retailing (9983.T) plans to sell fabric face masks for the Airism underwear line in response to strong demand for protective equipment for the corona virus.

The company had previously been cautious about making face masks, but a spokeswoman said it changed its mind after receiving many requests from customers to make them.

Details of prices and launch dates will be announced later, she said on Monday.

The Airism underwear is made from a specially developed fabric known for a smooth, silky feel. The company says the fabric keeps the wearer cool even in the summer months by releasing moisture and warmth.

Face masks have been in short supply in Japan since the coronavirus epidemic hit the country and companies like sportswear brand Mizuno Corp (8022.T) and smartphone screen manufacturer Sharp Corp (6753.T) to produce them.

Reporting by Ritsuko Ando and Sakura Murakami; Arrangement by Raju Gopalakrishnan

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