Cala
  • Would you wear a R551 T-shirt that displays your Covid vaccine card?
  • That's what Andrew Wyatt, the CEO of fashion tech company Cala, is betting on.
  • His shirt embodies an emerging trend of vaccine card fashion amid new vaccination mandates in the US.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

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 said. "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. That zippered pouch perfectly fits a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card.

After showing it to a few people and getting some positive feedback, he decided to have it produced using Cala's platform.

The shirt - called simply "vax card shirt" - costs $38 (around R551), comes in sizes small through extra-large, and is available to buy online. Wyatt said he plans to branch out into other products, like a lanyard, an armband or fanny pack for gym-goers, 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."

A person wearing Cala's vaccine card T-shirt in the wild.

On its face, Wyatt's T-shirt design may seem a little silly, or maybe even dystopian. But as vaccine mandates become more common nationwide and municipalities like New York begin requiring people to show proof of their vaccination status before going to gyms, restaurants, and indoor performances, is it really that ridiculous?

Wyatt said he thinks there's a significant portion of the population, himself included, who prefers flashing their physical vaccine card over using an app that stores your vaccine record. He thinks that as requirements around vaccination status 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" returns over 2,000 results, many of them clear sleeves to protect the paper card. Over on Etsy, an entire cottage industry has sprung up of over 4,000 options for customised sleeves, wallets, and keychains perfectly proportioned to fit your vaccine card.

Some are clearly intended for international travel and contain 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 adorned with an embroidered Hedwig that states "I solemnly swear I have been vaccinated," or one that reads: "Accio antibodies."

And it's probably only a matter of time until the luxury fashion world starts offering up couture card holders or apparel like they did earlier in the pandemic. British label Erdem sells a matching face mask and bucket hat set that originally retailed for $355; Italian fashion house Fendi sells tiny leather outfits for your hand sanitizer for $620 a pop.

Now, as new restrictions are implemented nationwide and Covid infections rise in some parts of the US, only one thing seems certain: Pandemic-themed fashion is here to stay.

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.


Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.