It is no doubt that coronavirus has made life more difficult. And even after lockdown, life won’t return back to quite what it was before the virus, at least not right away. In some countries, it will probably be mandatory that people wear masks while out in public. Some will choose to wear it voluntarily as a precaution. Many people will really hate it, but understand that it is necessary for public health safety. Others will downright refuse.
That is where I think fashion designers have a role to play in this pandemic. While many businesses have pivoted to sewing masks for healthcare workers during lockdown, a designer can make wearing a mask, a somewhat more bearable ritual for the general public. Fashion influencers can help to bring down the stigma of wearing masks, as I know that many will refuse to wear one for various reasons such as; it’s not comfortable, it’s ugly, it’s not socially acceptable. I can imagine parents having a hard time convincing their kids to comply with wearing one.
But what if a mask could make you feel more interesting, unique, attractive, more rock ‘n roll or superhero in these challenging times, would you feel less repulsion to wearing one?
There has been so much argument as to whether or not wearing masks could help reduce the spread of the virus. Some argued against it, citing lack of supply, and concern for the public not being educated enough to wear one properly. Others suggested that it is not really that effective for protecting one’s self and that it could cause one to feel a false sense of security. And yet, common sense should tell you that a mask is better than a bare face, should anyone sneeze on you. Since it is the case that one could have the virus and not know it, they could be unwittingly spreading it to others. If everyone wore one, it would be effective as a whole for flatting the curve. After all this rejection of the mask, the West has come to suggest wearing masks despite their earlier refusal. I would say, perhaps this is a societal issue? There was no argument about mask-wearing in Asia.
In Asia, wearing a mask is viewed as being considerate or cautious. It is normal to to be seen wearing a mask when one has a cold, or when air quality is not good. But here in the West, it is viewed as alarming, making people feel uncomfortable.
I think those of us, as fashion designers could play a vital role in motivating people to stay on course with wearing masks, by designing a mask that people would want to wear.
I started making masks at the request of others. I already had a mask that I bought in China, made of silk, which I wear for my dust allergies. I have over a decades worth of fabric scraps from design projects, all in luxurious silks and cottons. Since I cannot go to the fabric store, I’ve had to rise t challenge of working only with what I have on hand.
I made this leopard print mask for myself. Leopard print foes with just about everything, and yet it is bold, but classic. It has played a large-time role in the history of fashion. Jackie O made it really popular during the 60s, and it continues to be fashionable. Prince always wore it on his guitar strap.
After this exercise, I decided, why not offer what I’m making to the rest of the world? So I have added this leopard print mask to my shop. Each purchase of a mask will come with a surprise gift from me! Be sure to take advantage of combined shipping when you order other stuff too.
Stay safe, everyone!
Image above: “Leopard Print Mask” by Andrea Mai.
©2020 by Andrea Mai. All rights reserved.