During the coronavirus outbreak, New Zealand entrepreneur Jamie Hunt's mind started spinning when he was made aware of the strange ritual his daughter would run through every evening after work.

Before greeting the family, she would go into the laundry, place her clothing directly into the washing machine and then head straight to the bathroom for a long shower.

As a worker in the healthcare sector, she saw these steps as necessary to keep her family safe from the virus which could be carried into the home on her clothing.

With a long history in the textile industry, Hunt started looking into whether there wasn't perhaps a fabric or substance that could help to alleviate this concern.


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Hunt's fascination with fabrics stretches back into his role as the founder of Australasian sportswear brand 2XU - pronounced Two Times You - which exploded globally to command $100m in annual revenue and today sees its compression tights worn by NBA basketballers, NFL players and US marines.

Hunt hopes to see his new range of clothing worn by workers who mix with people during the day. Photo / Supplied.
Hunt hopes to see his new range of clothing worn by workers who mix with people during the day. Photo / Supplied.

"After selling 2XU to Louis Vuitton, I had two years of restraint of trade where I couldn't work on any other sporting brand, so I had been mulling around for the past 18 months," Hunt tells the Herald.

"Then when Covid hit, I started to look into this space."

Hunt says that in his time at 2XU he had developed a number of textiles with antibacterial properties, but he was curious to see if there was anything capable of having a similar effect on a virus.

Kiwi entrepreneur Jamie Hunt has a bold new idea. Photo / Supplied
Kiwi entrepreneur Jamie Hunt has a bold new idea. Photo / Supplied

He tapped into his wide contact base across the textile industry and realised that an associate at a Swiss company called HeiQ had been working on a fabric that might have the application he was hoping for.

The company had previously conducted some successful studies during the Sars outbreak and Hunt wanted to know if the technology they had could also be effective against coronavirus.

"They came back to me and said the substance had proven effective against coronavirus, but I still needed to develop the right kind of fabric that could hold the material they had developed," Hunt says.


"We worked together and discovered that a filament polyester was the best fibre that this chemical would adhere to."

This led to the prototype that would eventually be turned into the new anti-viral clothing brand called Aviro that Hunt recently launched.

He says that the chemical doesn't last indefinitely on clothing and does wash out over time.

"At the moment, our last ISO testing was up to 15 washes, but we currently also have a test out in the UK, which goes up to 30 washes. It's looking very likely that this will pass."

Hunt is cognisant that the public might be sceptical of the concept and explains that this is why he has ensured he has the backing of the scientific community before making any claims.

The technology developed by HeiQ was tested extensively at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital) and showed that a treated fabric achieved a 99.99 per cent reduction of the virus on its surface.

Earlier this year, experiments found that at least some coronavirus can potentially remain viable - capable of infecting a person - for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

"I could have brought this technology to the market two months ago, but I wanted to go through the testing first to ensure that I crossed my T's and dotted my I's," Hunt says.

"We've already had testing done at a lab in Switzerland, it's already passed two ISO tests and we have the additional one ongoing in the UK right now. I've definitely gone out of my way to ensure that the technology I've developed with this company in Switzerland is fully certified."

Hunt is targeting the Aviro brand at the everyday user. Photo / Supplied
Hunt is targeting the Aviro brand at the everyday user. Photo / Supplied

Hunt has developed a range of clothing specifically for everyday wear. He said he wanted to create something practical that anybody could use in a day job or when they're out and about.

"I have already seen this technology being used in face masks and I anticipate it will also be used in scrubs and other medical attire in the future, but what I'm really aiming for is the everyday person," says Hunt.

"If you're going to go outside and mix with people, if you're going out to play golf, or if you're a courier driver, then this clothing is for you."

While the chemical compound used in the clothing might have anti-viral properties, it's important to remember that clothing will offer no protection against dirty hands, faces or the saliva of those talking around you. Additional precautions will still need to be taken to ensure safety.

At the moment, Hunt is still keeping things quite small. His new company only employs around four people on the Aviro line.

But then again, when 2XU started it was a tiny, somewhat oddball, firm that no one had ever heard of. And 15 years later, Hunt would find himself discussing deals with Louis Vuitton and collaborating with Kanye West. So who knows where this slightly crazy idea might end up?