France’s oldest blue jeans creator now making masks


France has its very own Levi-Strauss. His name is Célestin Tuffery. He co-invented blue jeans at the same time that Levi-Strauss did.

Julien Tuffery is Célestin’s great-great-great-grandson. Based in Lozère, a region even most French people wouldn’t know where to put on a map, the factory employs 10 people. 

France started to run short of masks around mid-March, a critical moment in the country’s struggle against Covid-19.

“Locally, we were hearing that nobody could find masks anymore. In a spirit of solidarity, we asked ourselves how we could help. On Sunday, we tried making a couple of masks. On Monday, we launched production to the full extent of our capacities.”

How do you make masks in a blue-jeans factory? They’re composed of 2 rectangles, one made out of denim, and the other out of pocket fabric. The masks are clearly not meant for hospital use. But they suit the needs of the local population. And they’re washable!

Then the French Minister of the Economy, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, asked all factories with the capacity to do so to help make masks. 

“At some point, you need to leave your selfishness zone,” as Julien Tuffery put it. His company gave the masks out for free. They were soon joined by other local businesses, such as Décor Discount, which began providing free fabric; and Vercourses, which is offering free transportation and deliveries. When solidarity gets as contagious as Covid-19, there’s hope!