Are we asking too much from our jeans? Maybe. They’re expected to wick sweat, sculpt our behinds, and provide full-body motion for squats and lunges, all while exuding a cool-but-not-trying-too-hard vibe. And now, in these After Times, they’re also supposed to keep the coronavirus — the same one that has killed more than 1 million people worldwide and sent whole economies crashing — at bay. Possibly.
There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical, but that isn’t stopping denim brands such as Diesel, DL1961, and Warp + Weft from promoting jeans purported to squelch any traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, that presume to land on their surfaces.
They’re in good company. Italy’s Albini Group, which supplies dress shirts to luxury brands like Armani and Prada, is touting new Viroformula fabrics that use silver to “inhibit viruses and kill bacteria upon contact on the surface in a few minutes.” In London, Vollebak wove 7 miles of copper, another purported germ slayer, to create a “full metal jacket” for a “new era of disease on Earth.” US Denim Mills, which manufactures sustainable denim clothing in Pakistan, is inoculating its antiviral collection, dubbed “Safe for US,” with silver, copper, and the less commonly used peppermint. Los Angeles company Lambs sells a “snapback” glove you can slip on when opening doors and let dangle from your belt loop when you don’t need it. It’s clad in a patented silver-threaded fabric that “prevents virus or microbe accumulation.”
None of these manifested out of thin air. Antimicrobial textile finishes, the secret sauce behind BO-blasting gym shorts and sports bras, have been targeting odor-causing bacteria for decades, though few if any made claims of killing viruses, which are a different type of microorganism altogether.