Face masks have become the new norm in the United States, it is almost strange to see someone without a mask and gloves now. In many Asian countries, wearing a mask before going outside is routine. As the coronavirus threat continues, western countries are adopting the custom.
We have reached the point where the shortage of powerful masks like the N95s is so obvious that studies are looking at workers on the frontlines reusing them. Because of the shortage, many people have no choice but to make their own out of fabric. For some, face masks have even become a fashion statement.
On Jan. 26 at the Grammy Awards, Billie Eilish donned a thin, logo-embellished face mask designed by Gucci. The coronavirus was still only in China. Whether this was simply her fashion choice or a statement, neither the fashion house nor Eilish have commented.
During fashion month in February, face masks became a trend. Fashion trendsetters showed color-coordinated face masks by Chanel and Louis Vuitton. French fashion house Marine Serre even displayed one on its fall/winter 2020 runway.
An array of designers are producing fashion-forward masks from local designers on Etsy to sustainability fashion brand Reformation. Fashion designer Collina Strada launched a partnership with Reformation, selling bundles of five masks. Strada also publicized her mask pattern for accessibility to the home sewer.
Throngs of fashion influencers have been wearing designer face masks too. Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni posted an Instagram story of his and hers Louis Vuitton fleece masks. Clothing designer and entrepreneur Conna Walker also posted herself wearing a black face mask bedazzled with the Chanel logo.
Studies on fabric and homemade masks have shown that they are less effective than surgical masks and they're certainly no replacement for the essential N95 respirators health care workers must wear to treat patients. However, due to CDC guidelines, it is imperative that people do not enter public spaces without a face mask.
Designers have not pursued fashion face masks. Many are instead pivoting to making medical face masks to donate to hospitals in need. Project runway alumni Christian Siriano was the first to produce a mask.
Major fashion houses are using their factories to produce necessities solely for medical staff partly as an excuse to change their production teams into essential workers and continue production of product, and partly to help aid in the shortage.
LVMH and Kering brands Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Dior have moved their production lines to begin manufacturing surgical masks. Givenchy and Guerlain had long pledged to move from perfume making to manufacturing hand sanitizer that would be donated to public health industries.