Animal print, beads or plain black, face masks are now a big fashion trend

  • Style
  • Monday, 20 Jul 2020

Covering your face with a mask is as much a fashion thing, as it is about being socially responsible. Shown here is a pro-face mask pop-up fashion show that took place in the US. Photo: AFP

They can be colourful or come in basic black, make a political statement or just a funny one.

Masks made of cotton and other washable materials have become big sellers, and an emerging fashion item, as face coverings have been increasingly mandated around the world to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Sales are expected to get another boost after Britain and France announced this week that they will require masks in public indoor spaces. That could help France's textile and luxury goods companies unload a surplus of masks that numbered 20 million in June.

In addition, at least 25 US states are requiring masks in many indoor situations. Oregon even began requiring masks outdoors if people can't stay 6 feet (2 metres) apart.

Read more: From dresses to masks: Malaysian designers create stylish face coverings

In a sign that masks are becoming a fashion trend, Vogue magazine recently listed 100 "aesthetically pleasing" selections.

The fashion magazine's recommendations include a mask with beaded accents from Susan Alexandra. The cost: US$70 (RM298).

Masks made from vintage quilt tops, by Farewell Frances, go for US$25 (RM107). After US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began wearing masks that matched her outfits, people watching her on news channels noticed they had a Donna Lewis label on them.

Nanyc Pelosi began wearing masks that matched her outfits. Photo: APNanyc Pelosi began wearing masks that matched her outfits. Photo: AP

The boutique in Alexandria, Virginia, became besieged by purchase orders and soon ran out of the labels, which customers demanded. The boutique now has a huge backlog of orders, co-owner Chris Lewis said.

"I'm shipping them all over the world now, ” Lewis stated. "Orders are so furious, I can't keep up.”

Perhaps showing some fashion sense, when President Donald Trump wore a mask publicly for the first time Saturday, he chose a navy-blue one that bore the presidential seal and matched the colour of his suit.

Read more: Fashion in pictures: A time when masks were just accessories for the runway

Thanks to mask sales, Etsy, the online crafts marketplace, has seen revenue jump. In April alone, Etsy sold 12 million masks, generating US$133 million (RM567 million) in sales.

"If face masks were a stand-alone category, it would have been the second biggest category on Etsy in the month of April, ” CEO Josh Silverman said.

Second-quarter revenue, to be announced in August, will likely show mask sales are red hot. Black masks are in highest demand, followed by white and floral patterns, Etsy spokeswoman Lily Cohen said.

"We are seeing lots of unique variations on masks, including personalisation with names and monograms... styles with animal faces or lips, ” she said.

There's also the comical, like the one that says,"Resting mask face.” Also available are masks saying,"Black lives matter” with an image of a raised fist.

Some businesses have told employees they can't wear them, sparking debate about appropriate workplace attire and the desire to show solidarity with the fight against racism.

Read more: 4 ways fashion redesigned itself while under a pandemic lockdown

Masks can show patriotism as well as activism. In Paris, a firefighter wore a face covering with the colours of the French flag before marching in the Bastille Day parade celebrating the national holiday this week along the Champs Elysees.

Others at a protest across town wore yellow masks, representing the yellow vest movement against economic injustice that began in late 2018. Workers at restaurants and other businesses are wearing masks with corporate logos.

A firefighter wears a face mask with the colours of the French flag in Paris.A firefighter wears a face mask with the colours of the French flag in Paris.

Oregon governor Kate Brown wears one showing the state flag. In Colombia, dozens of fashion companies have pivoted to producing masks, including ones with colourful images of toucans, jaguars and other tropical designs that normally go on expensive swimsuits.

South Africans often sport masks made of colourful African fabrics. But for many consumers, plain white will do.

When Uniqlo put its white "cool and dry” masks with breathable fabric on sale in June, shoppers lined up at stores and crashed its website. Supplies sold out in hours. – AP

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