Are coronavirus face masks the new fashion trend?

If you browse through the Internet, you can find lots of different colorful and fun face masks for sale that will put a smile on your face.

AMIR’S MASKS have two layers of cotton, with a layer of polyfill in between them (photo credit: SARIT AMIR)
AMIR’S MASKS have two layers of cotton, with a layer of polyfill in between them
(photo credit: SARIT AMIR)
It was only a matter of time before protective face masks, which many of us are wearing these days to protect ourselves (and to protect others), turned into fashion statements. If you browse through the Internet, you can find lots of different colorful and fun face masks for sale that will put a smile on your face, and also give designers a little extra income during this period when many of us are on forced unpaid leave from our day jobs.
“There’s no reason you can’t continue to look and feel good while protecting yourself,” states Lapid Helena Seidler, 31, from Ramat Gan, who in normal times designs bathing suits. Now that we’ve found ourselves in this alternative reality of COVID-19, Seidler has found a new way to use her talents and vast design experience to create a new source of income.
“I create custom-designed swimwear, but most of my customers used to come to my studio in my home,” Seidler explains. “In light of the new situation, I stopped making bathing suits – I don’t want people coming in and out of my home all the time, and anyway people don’t want to leave their home these days. That’s why I came up with the idea to make beautiful customized face masks that people can use to protect themselves from the virus.”
How did you come up with the idea?
“Well, I wanted to add some color to this dreary time in our lives, and I figured this is the one item everyone needs to acquire now. There are no official standards to follow for the masks, but I decided to use a waterproof material. These multi-use masks are made from a lots of varieties of patterned cloth, including one waterproof layer.
“People wearing my masks can also boil them in water when they get home if they want. I see people wearing masks all day long, so they’re probably full of bacteria by the time they get home, and yet they don’t wash them with soap and water. That’s crazy! The masks I make are meant to be used by people who want to cover their face when they go out to the supermarket, and then wash the mask when they get home. I can add some embroidery on them, too.”
What kind of feedback have you received so far?
“I just started advertising last week on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, and I’ve already received lots of orders. I send the completed masks to my customers by messenger service. Prices range from NIS 85 to 140, depending on the design, of course.
“In this day and age of social networking, people place great emphasis on how they look at any given moment. The face mask has become part of our new reality, and it’s impossible to know how long this new reality will last. I personally know lots of people who are embarrassed to wear a face mask in public, and that’s where my services become helpful. When they wear a chic, colorful and fun mask, they can still feel good about themselves.”
ALINE COHEN, 19, a popular YouTuber and makeup blogger, right away realized the market potential and began importing masks that comply with international standards, with her logo on them. The first shipment of these masks is slated to arrive in Israel any day now.
Pnina Amir, 66, from Jaffa, the manager at the Vera Hotel in Tel Aviv, also began designing masks. She has plenty of time on her hands now that she’s been put on furlough.
“I’m sure that designer masks will soon become a fashion trend,” Amir says. “There’s something very intimidating about wearing a medical face mask. Designer masks, on the other hand, soften the look a great deal.”
Before she began working at the Vera Hotel, Amir worked in fashion design, and the idea to design a face mask came to her just by chance.
“I was in Vietnam last year, and I’d brought home hand-made cloth masks to give to my granddaughters as presents. In Vietnam, people wear this type of masks when they ride on motorcycles,” Amir explains.
“Then when the COVID-19 reached Israel, I said to myself, ‘At least the girls will have masks to protect themselves.’ But when I spoke with them, they told me they couldn’t find the ones I’d brought them, so I told them not to worry and that I’d make them new ones. That’s how it started.
Now, word has gotten out, and people who are wearing my masks are being asked where they got them, and so I’ve had lots of people calling me and ordering masks. It’s nice having some extra income, but the best part is that I feel like I’m doing something helpful, and also having lots of fun.”
The masks that Amir designed have two layers of cotton, with a layer of polyfill in between the two layers, which is made of polyester fibers.
“They’re reusable and double-sided – each side has a different pattern. You can wash them again and again. The designs are really fun and they masks are super comfortable. Whenever I go down to the makolet, people ask me where I got my mask from.”
Amir sells her masks for NIS 45.
“So far, my son has been doing all the deliveries for me. But if we end up with full closure, I’m not sure we’ll be able to continue delivering them. Maybe deliveries will still be allowed.”
“People are always looking for unique and colorful options. No one really likes wearing the boring and medical-looking masks. People living in Tel Aviv like to find special things,” says Yigal Morali, 52, from Tel Aviv, who in normal times is a costume designer for actors and dancers. These days, he’s also been spending time designing new masks. The multi-use colorful masks he’s creating are made from breathable fabrics and are currently being marketed on Facebook and Instagram. He sells them for NIS 35, not including delivery. Morali is also happy to take customized orders, including smaller sizes for children.
THE HANDIWORK of Yigal Morali (Photo Credit: Courtesy) THE HANDIWORK of Yigal Morali (Photo Credit: Courtesy)
“I’m happy to implement any graphic extras that people want,” continues Morali. “People are showing interest, but I don’t have so many orders yet. People in general are worried about finances in these uncertain times, and it’s also difficult for people to come pick up the masks due to limited movement regulations.”
Do you think customized masks will become a fashion trend?
“Well, lots of people have begun designing masks, so it’s possible the number of sales will start increasing. I think it depends largely on how long it takes until the COVID-19 fades away. In the meantime, I wear a mask everywhere I go and I feel much more protected. And it’s fun that everywhere I go people get really excited by my mask.”
Translated by Hannah Hochner.