In the fashion world, a must-have accessory is something that’s on-trend. It’s a piece that’s so popular that not having it signals you’re out of touch with the latest developments in fashion. In a world currently coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, a must-have accessory is something that protects your health and the health of everyone around you. Without it, you risk contracting the coronavirus, spreading it to anyone you interact with, and unraveling the progress communities have made so far in flattening the curve.
The COVID-19 face masks have quickly found itself at the intersection of these two meanings of “must-have accessory.” At the beginning of April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began recommending that every individual wear a cloth face-covering whenever they are in public settings where it is hard to maintain social distancing measures, such as at the grocery store or pharmacy. The CDC emphasizes that the cloth face coverings can be made out of household items and that surgical masks and N-95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
Despite this recommendation, government officials have done little to help the general public obtain the appropriate COVID-19 face masks. People who are handy with a needle and thread can make them out of bedsheets or scarves, but what about the large portion of the public who don’t have the time or skills to create homemade COVID-19 face masks?
That’s where fashion brands are stepping in. As the demand for face masks skyrockets, brands have started designing their own versions of the COVID-19 face masks and selling them to consumers. Not only do consumers need masks to leave their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, but masks from designers are much more visually interesting than standard medical masks. Masks from fashion companies have quickly become a new form of self-expression, helping consumers maintain a sense of individuality while they wear something that covers half of their faces. Some of our favorite fashionable COVID-19 face masks include Dalia MacPhee, Christopher Palu, Ivon Los Angeles, Grace Eleyae, and Christy Dawn (photos included in this feature).
Selling aesthetically-pleasing face masks is also beneficial for the revenue of these brands. In 2018, consumers spent about $517 billion online working with U.S. merchants. A good portion of those billions has dried up as the coronavirus continues to change the financial wellbeing of Americans, causing consumers to be much more conscious about how they spend their money. Selling practical, yet fashionable, face masks are the perfect opportunity for clothing companies to tap into the demands of the public and keep their businesses afloat at the same time.
As brands have been rolling out masks, they’ve been incorporating more practical features as well as appealing designs. One issue some people had anticipated with making and selling masks in this crisis was how they would get the necessary materials. About 95% of the world’s cargo moves by ship, but the global pandemic has all but stopped companies’ normal supply chains. Luckily, brands have found ways to make masks without having to further tax the world’s limited supply of resources. Many have been recycling fabrics from their past collections or using scraps of denim and other fabrics that would otherwise have been thrown away. Brands are also taking care to make masks with washable fabric so that consumers can sanitize their masks and re-wear them.
Many fashion brands are running special deals that also help out the country’s hard-working healthcare workers. Offering 1+1 or 5+5 match packages has become commonplace on websites of fashion brands. When you buy a 5+5 pack at Christy Dawn, for example, you will receive five sustainable, reusable masks and the other five masks will be sent to medical workers. Other brands are making donations on their own to help those in need. For instance, J.Crew and Madewell are each selling non-medical face masks in packs of three for consumers but have also donated a total of 75,000 single-use masks to the healthcare system. Rose Brand is donating 20% of the sale of their 3-pk of Make A Difference and Keep Your Distance COVID-19 face masks to the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
If you’ve been procrastinating making a mask of your own, check to see if any of your favorite fashion brands are selling non-surgical face masks. You may even be able to find out in an easy zero-click search, a type of search that makes up over 62% of mobile searches and will answer your query right on the results page without you having to click on any links. Once you have your answer, you can start browsing the brand’s mask options and find one that speaks to your style and budget. Remember to keep an eye out for deals that send masks to those in need so that you can do your part to help the community.
Even as coronavirus hospitalizations start to slow down in the United States, Keep Your Distance that the public will need to keep up social distancing measures for the foreseeable future. Some even predict these measures extending into the next year and beyond, with this health crisis permanently changing how people interact with the world. This means that although some parts of society may start returning to normal, it’s likely that wearing face masks in public will be the new normal. Investing in sustainable, reusable face masks now will help keep you healthy, keep small fashion brands in the business, and keep healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 protected against the virus.