For designer Shadi Ahmadisagheb, fashion has always been about forecasting. She and her partner, Antonio Krezic, founded menswear brand Poplin and Co. in 2018. “It was kind of the perfect mix,” says Krezic. “She used her design and creativity and I used my background in marketing to propel this into existence.” Ahmadisagheb attended plenty of industry seminars and executed predicted trends with her own twist, influenced by the vibrant textiles traditional to her Iranian heritage. The result was colourful and quirky cotton shirts sporting detailed florals, fruits and cute critters like sloths and raccoons.

xAntonio Krezic and Shadi Ahmadisagheb.

But even a style visionary couldn’t have predicted COVID-19. As sales dropped and retailers shut down, Ahmadisagheb and Krezic pivoted their playful designs to a more urgent need: masks. They started by sewing a few fabric facecoverings for friends and family using material from unsold shirts. Then they put a few online, and sold out instantly. “The demand was so high, we started using home sewers in Vancouver,” says Ahmadisagheb.

xWashable 100% cotton face masks, $16.50.

Poplin and Co. manufacture their shirts in China, but the pandemic has brought the mask-making process closer to home. Their Vancouver team of mask sewers is made up of local women, many with incomes that were affected by the virus. The duo is proud that their unique prints translate well into COVID-era fashion, but, mostly, they’re grateful for a caring community in a difficult time: “We feel very fortunate for all the local support,” says Ahmadisagheb.

xUp next for Poplin and Co. is their first line of jacquard-knit sweaters—they’re keeping us colourful and cozy even as the temperature drops.