Scough

The Scough filters out germs and pollution using military-grade technology. It also doesn't look half bad.

Japan has taken the surgical mask to particularly high heights of fashion. A quick search yields coughing mouths covered by animal faces, knock-off Louis Vuitton prints, Geisha lips, and more—dutifully strapped on to prevent the spread of germs.

We should be so stylishly courteous here in the States. Happily, the kind germophobes at Scough have stitched up an American answer to the commuter surgical mask: Sumptuous scarves, embedded with ultra-high-grade germ filters.

Scough co-founder Ari Klaristenfeld said inspiration struck on wintertime subway trips with collaborator Andrew Kessler. "He'd put a scarf over his face, like you would to stay warm, but he'd do it to protect himself from germs," Klaristenfeld says. "It wasn’t effective, but it didn't look nearly as weird as a surgeon's mask."

Klaristenfeld, Kessler, and designer Alexa Nigro first experimented with inserting those masks into scarf material. But they found that while the standard paper coverings stopped gunk escaping from the wearer's mouth, they didn't do much to combat incoming particles, which is what Scough is primarily marketed to do.

It's a philosophical distinction from how Japan and other mask-wearing countries approach germs. "We’re marketing it first as, 'Protect yourself and stay healthy,'" Klaristenfeld says. "And then kind of sliding in the courtesy aspect: 'Don't get other people sick.'"

After consulting with medical professionals, the Scough team homed in on filters made from silver-impregnated activated carbon, a material used in masks designed to help wearers survive chemical warfare. It actively traps and kills germs as well as pollutants. The filters last up to three months, and can be slipped in and out of a pocket inside the Scough for easy Scoughwashing.

Scough launches an all-new fall/winter collection today, featuring bright flannels, cashmere blends, and cotton bandanas designed for cyclists looking to combat car exhaust. Klaristenfeld is particularly excited about those. "You see people on bikes wearing normal bandanas all the time," he says. "That's not doing anything. Ours will actually protect them."

Anti-germ scarves and bandanas, $29-$89 at WearAScough.com.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A cyclist rides on the bike lane in the Mid Market neighborhood during Bike to Work Day in San Francisco,
    Perspective

    Why We Need to Dream Bigger Than Bike Lanes

    In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.

  2. Perspective

    Untangling the Housing Shortage and Gentrification

    Untangling these related but different problems is important, because the tactics for solving one won’t work for the other.

  3. a photo of the Maryland Renaissance Festival
    Life

    The Utopian Vision That Explains Renaissance Fairs

    What’s behind the enduring popularity of all these medieval-themed living-history festivals?

  4. Maps

    A Comprehensive Map of American Lynchings

    The practice wasn’t limited to the South, as this new visualization of racial violence in the Jim Crow era proves.

  5. Transportation

    A Horrifying Glimpse Into Your Dystopian Future Transit Commute

    A comic artist’s take on what the future of transportation might really feel like.

×