It’s become apparent that protective face masks are staying with us for the long run. Could they become the new must-have fashion accessory? Face masks are now an everyday essential, in addition to your phone, keys and wallet. You can never leave the house without the all-important face mask. Giving us access to enter shops and use public transport, face masks are there to protect ourselves and others. However, there is perhaps potential to express ourselves beyond conventional clothing items. Designer brands such as Off-White, Tory Burch, and Missoni have all released their latest face mask designs. Not to mention the appearance of Billie Eilish in a Gucci face covering at the Grammy Awards earlier this year.
(It is important to add that these masks are probably not CDC approved! So always check before you buy!)
Where does this lead us? Could it become the norm to start matching your face mask to your outfit? Or even base your entire outfit off the initial face mask? I’d like to think that the anti-maskers out there will stop viewing face masks as an inconvenience, and rather view them with the potential they have. It may feel unimaginable, but masks may become the next functional fashion accessory. There is, however, a fine line that the ‘fashion mask’ treads on. Should luxury brands be able to make a profit from what is deemed a necessity to survival?
Earlier this year, the fast fashion brand Boohoo was slammed by NHS staff for selling £5 ‘useless’ fashion masks, and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) deemed the masks as ‘scandalous’. In response, Boohoo donated thousands of scrubs, masks and gowns to NHS staff.
There are independent retailers selling masks with a more conscious approach. For example, London- based Florence Bridge is donating her profits to the Fuel Our Frontline charity, and British brand, Lavender Hill Clothing, donates masks to the Katherine Low Settlement charity, helping those vulnerable in Battersea. Both brands have made it clear that they do not wish to profit from the COVID pandemic and have instead taken a charitable approach. I’d like to think that many other brands will follow this initiative, in order to contribute to those affected and help provide affordable but also protective face masks.