IF you think that this is a moment of “life as we know it will no longer be the same”, you are absolutely right! Not only have we embraced a lifestyle that would have been previously unfathomable, but there are world-wide changes on all levels, especially on the consumer level. People under quarantine are forgoing all sorts of luxuries to focus on the bare necessities instead. Among these necessities is the new must-have item. And no, it is not a new shoe or a handbag as you may have clearly guessed. The new must-have accessory of our times is the face mask and not the skincare variety.
World-wide health guidelines insist on the importance of wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus. People don’t go in public, if they can, without some form of face mask be it the surgical kind, cotton, or cloth. And just like that, a new market has opened up. And who should scramble to get a piece of that new pie other than designer brands. The increasing demand on health masks has enabled many fashion labels to reopen their factories to meet this demand.
Leave it to those fashion brands, however, to inject some form of self-expression into this much-needed item. Designer Emily Helmstedt of the label Helmstedt of Copenhagen is one of those who wanted to make a positive contribution by making masks that are handmade by using dead-stock cotton-silk blends. Sales profit of these masks will be donated to WHO’s The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Prada, Christian Siriano, Zara, and H&M are also among those permitted to use their factories to meet the shortage in face masks. Siriano, who is based in New York, was prompted to start producing masks after New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo pleaded with local businesses to help out. People believe that this is a win-win situation, the healthcare professionals, the struggling brands, and the public who is in desparate need of face masks will all be on the winning end.
Other companies started by producing masks for their own workers such as Los Angeles Apparel in California. Now the company is producing hundreds of thousands of French terry masks per week. They are also in the process of producing surgical gowns. Luxury fashion houses have also followed suit; Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, and Brandon Maxwell as well.
Los Angeles Apparel
However, there are bound to be some concerns when fast fashion retailers such as Zara and H&M are included in the race. There will be environmental concerns, as well as labor abuses, especially if the pandemic goes on for extended periods of time and masks become a part of our daily lives. There are fears if the pandemic continues to spread, that certain high-end brands will might want to charge higher prices for their “designer masks” thus trying to capitalise on people’s fears as well as their fashionable weaknesses. That’s why it is believed that some restrictions need to govern the production of masks to ensure that they are produced in the most humane way possible. But we cannot deny that times like these differentiate between no one, and a strong sense of community is prevailing across the globe. In the end we can only wish for everyone’s health and safety.