- Would you wear a $US38 ($AU52) T-shirt that displays your COVID-19 vaccine card?
- Andrew Wyatt, the CEO of the fashion-tech company Cala, is betting the answer is yes.
- His shirt embodies an emerging trend of vaccine-card fashion amid new vaccination mandates.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Andrew Wyatt was jogging over the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City when he noticed people around him staring.
Wyatt, the CEO of Cala, a technology company that connects designers and brands with supply chains, was fully vaccinated and had decided not to wear a mask while running outdoors.
“I noticed that everyone I passed would glare at me and adjust their mask,” he told Insider in an email. “I thought … if only there was a way to easily show I was vaccinated.”
Wyatt mocked up a pretty straightforward T-shirt design: a white shirt with a clear sleeve where the breast pocket would typically be. The zippered pouch perfectly fits a vaccination card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
After showing it to a few people and getting some positive feedback, he decided to produce it using Cala’s platform.
The “vax card tee” costs $US38 ($AU52), comes in sizes small through extra-large, and is available to buy online. Wyatt said he planned to branch into other products, like a lanyard, an armband or fanny pack for gymgoers, and a lighter zip-up jacket for cooler days.
“As we see travel restrictions ebb and flow based on each country’s policy, I also think garments such as these will be great for travel,” he said, adding, “It seems like a no-brainer to incorporate this into work uniforms in some way.”
On its face, Wyatt’s T-shirt design may seem a little silly, or maybe even dystopian. But as vaccine mandates become more common and as municipalities like New York begin requiring people to show proof of vaccination before going to gyms, restaurants, and indoor performances, is it really that ridiculous?
Wyatt said he thought there was a significant portion of the population, himself included, who preferred flashing their physical vaccine card over using an app that stores your vaccination record. He thinks that as vaccination requirements become more widespread, vaccine-card apparel and accessories will become more common too.
To a certain extent, it’s already begun. On Amazon, a search for “vaccine card holder” returned over 2,000 results, many of them clear sleeves to protect the paper card. On Etsy, a cottage industry has sprung up, with over 4,000 options for sleeves, wallets, and keychains perfectly proportioned to fit your vaccine card.
Some are clearly intended for international travel, containing a slot for your passport and an adjoining sleeve for your vaccine card. Others make cheeky references to, of all things, the bubonic plague. If you’re a “Harry Potter” fan, you can get a leather sleeve with an embroidered Hedwig that says “I solemnly swear I have been vaccinated,” or one that reads “accio antibodies.”
It’s probably only a matter of time until the luxury-fashion world offers couture card holders or apparel. The British label Erdem sells a matching face mask and bucket hat that originally cost $US355 ($AU484). The Italian fashion house Fendi sells tiny leather outfits for your hand sanitizer for $US620 ($AU845) a pop.
As officials implement new restrictions and COVID-19 infections rise in some parts of the US, one thing seems certain: Pandemic-themed fashion is here to stay.