COVID-19 masks become fashion statements

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A child rocks a stylish mask to school. (Pixels.com)

Megan Robinson

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals would use masks as a fashion statement after seeing Billie Eilish wearing a Gucci mask to the Grammy’s. Even still, the pandemic has most certainly incited many people to find a new way to express themselves through masks. Especially with the CDC advising everyone to wear masks in public, creativity has sparked throughout the fashion world. 

Companies quickly jumped on board, seeing this time as an opportunity to get creative and produce stylish masks that would allow their consumers to stay safe yet fashionable.

As more individuals are looking for fashion-friendly options rather than the N95 and medical masks that the CDC has advised them to wear, it’s become more common to see aesthetically pleasing masks that have unique and intricate designs on someone’s face. Some businesses have given a certain percentage of their sales toward a population with a high risk of getting COVID-19, such as La Ligne. Other companies like Royal Jelly Harlem, Silvia Tcherassi, and Antisocial Mind, have contributed to relief programs with their mask funds. 

Hillary Taymour, the founder of Collina Strada, explained that “The design [of a Collina Strada mask] just brings a little sunshine during one of the most difficult times we have seen in this lifetime.” Masks have become a saving grace for companies who want to stay in business or for people who desire to have a bit of fun in their lives.

Defined as the “accessory of 2020,” some masks began to spark debates between people about whether or not they provide actual protection. Bandanas and gaiter masks are two that were proven to be the least effective in providing safety from the virus. As for regular cloth masks, some bacteria and particles can stick to the material if not washed properly after each use. Companies who sell these products to their customers cannot claim that their product will provide protection from COVID-19, however, they can argue that it offers better hygiene.

Although some masks can be washed after every use, their effectiveness diminishes as they become more threadbare after each wash. Their durability depends solely on the type of fabric used and how it was manufactured. Making sure to replace masks after their quality diminishes is the key to staying safe and stylish in the midst of the pandemic. Seeing this issue, researchers Peixin Tang, Gang Sun, and Nitin Nitin from the University of California created a new type of fabric that would allow attached microbes to be killed when exposed to the sunlight while still being washable and reusable afterward. This can allow people to use cloth masks for protection while still using them for a fashion-forward statement.

At the end of the day, masks do help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, so it is important to wear them as a gesture to protect others instead of valuing style over safety.