A stitched strategy for Zika prevention

Virtual marketplace Maternova tackles the Zika emergency using stylish apparel.
Zika-protective clothing by Maternova
Zika-protective clothing by Maternova

The mosquito-borne Zika virus has been reported in three United States territories. The virus is a threat for pregnant women because it can be passed on to the fetus, leading to birth defects such as microcephaly. While mosquito nets and insect repellents have been used to prevent the spread of the virus, one company aims to help pregnant women protect their unborn babies while looking stylish.

Founded by designers Meg Wirth and Allyson Cote, US-based company Maternova partnered with Brazilian fashion designers to create a stylish range of clothes that double as Zika protection. By using patented nanotechnology-enhanced textile that repels the mosquitoes that carry Zika, the company combines fashion and science to create a functional solution for women.

According to Cote, the range includes jumpsuits, maxi skirts and scarfs. By adding the mosquito repellant to everyday items of clothing, the company believes it will protect women wherever they find themselves. The clothing items hold their protective nature for up to 50 washes, making it especially appealing in low-resource areas where women frequently find themselves close to water.

Maternova launched a pilot range at a Zika design challenge in May this year, earning them $25 000 in prize money. The company plans to launch the idea using this money and the funds generated from its crowdfunding campaign.