Face masks have taken over every day fashion on the streets of some of the most cosmopolitan, global cities.
But it’s not only the consumer that has benefited from this monumental shift. They’ve also revived parts of the fashion industry itself.
As the global economy dips into recession and we see mass unemployment spread throughout the world as borders snap shut to tourism, nobody is looking to spend on expensive high level fashion.
Enter the humble face mask.
No longer just a niche item for polluted inner city living, face masks are one of the only things we can do as a society to prevent the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
But nobody said you couldn’t look good helping out your community, right?
COVID-19 is a virus and the only way an airborne virus can spread, is by passing respiratory droplets from person to person. Yes, all it takes is simple quarantining, social distancing and face coverings to stop the coronavirus in its tracks.
When you think of face masks, no doubt your mind drifts to dull white, surgical masks that you see on doctors. But with many governments imposing mask mandates on their citizens, brands have seized the opportunity to sell fashionable alternatives to the classic
We’re not only talking about home made products from Etsy or niche brands like Hoorag, we’re talking about some major fashion juggernauts like Nike, Adidas, Uniqlo and Burberry. Massive fashion brands taking the humble face mask designed to slow the spread of a deadly virus, and transforming it into a must have fashion item of the year.
Overnight trend changes in clothing fashion are certainly not a new phenomena, but there’s something about the way that face masks have gained prominence that feels different.
The final question that remains however, is whether fashionable masks are here to stay or nothing more than a passing fad.
When you look at other countries, can you really say that the coronavirus pandemic has made people happier to look out for the greater good? Or has it just made them more selfish and protectionist than ever?
Well, when we look at the sheer refusal to protect the most vulnerable in society through simple social distancing and lockdown measures, it would certainly be easier to make an argument for the latter.
In saying that however, there are certainly signs from younger generations that they’ve become accepted purely as fashion items. Something that will be important in cleaner, pandemic free cities once a vaccine is developed and things return to normal.
With multiple COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, will the fashion pull of face masks remain after their functional day to day purpose has been served?
It’s only a matter of time before we emerge from this global coronavirus pandemic and from there it’s going to be interesting to see how or even if, brands continue to market face masks.
As low cost, high margin products that are easy to make, it’s certainly in their best interest to find a way.