Trend forecasters are predicting that when the immediate pandemic has subsided, face masks have the potential to remain an “it” item.
Designer face masks had been gathering steam in Europe and North America before the pandemic. Over the last three years, designer brands, including Off-White and Fendi, revealed their logoed face masks (both currently sold out on Selfridge’s site). Gucci also designed Billie Eilish's iconic all Gucci look featuring a face mask for the Grammys.
Then came Covid-19. Medical experts were still debating the necessity of face masks when designers, entrepreneurs and influencers sensed an opportunity. About a month ago, celebrities and Instagram influencers alike began posting selfies in their masks on social media, often with luxurious back drops.
Today, there are limitless pages of face masks to browse, ranging from Etsy DIY options and fast fashion brands, to conceptual high-fashion designers where the price tag can reach £250. Combine this with numerous articles titled “Where to Buy Face Masks that are Stylish Online” by Vogue or “28 Fashion-Forward Face Masks To Express Your Personal Style” by Refinery 29 and the question around face masks starts to change: “Should I have one?” and “Which will best protect me?” to “Which one best will best reflect my image?”.
Arguably, this kind of evolution is inevitable, fashion turning generic items you need into items you desire. But, designer face masks and their promotion online raises many questions.
Discussion surrounding the topic has drawn in comments ranging from; designer face masks acting as “a post-modern commentary about the apocalyptic state of the world”, fashions exploitation of a pandemic, and the possible reflection of an inherently individualistic society, to luxury face masks acting as yet another symbol of status and wealth.
Despite the fashioning of masks, the face mask itself will remain symbolic. Wearing a mask is advised as it is the most effective way to protect others. The face mask will continue to be a symbol of solidarity and empathy for those around you, rather than protection of yourself during this difficult time.
If there is something good about the new trend, it’s that making them individualistic and desirable while promoting them online may persuade people to wear them which is preferable.
By Natalie Reppas