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Masks, But Make it Fashion


Designer Ashley Nell Tipton wears a Frida Kahlo themed mask.Cathy Kaczmarcyzk

With the Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world, it has become necessary to take precautionary measures in order to keep safe. Due to the nationwide outcry for safety precautions, masks have become a requirement to enter public areas, including beyond the basic supermarket, even compromising state and county parks. However, just because masks are required in every inch of social society, that does not necessarily mean that we cannot look fashionable with our face wear.

Many brands and celebrities have begun using the new market of masks to their advantage. This is not to necessarily say that the face mask business is actually being used for profit for businesses. Many companies that have gone into the mask-making business have been giving proceeds to charity. Others have provided free masks to healthcare workers who are putting their lives on the frontline to protect the public. For example, designer Michael Costello has dictated that for every mask purchased, one will be donated to a healthcare worker. High-end designer Michael Ngo, in comparison, has decided that for every mask bought, which costs between $100-$500, the funds will be donated to the Los Angeles Food Bank. So far, according to Ngo, $12,500 has been raised, which provides over 50,000 meals.

Much smaller businesses and designers are also making masks. Icelandic designer Yr Johannsdottir has been making masks to encourage social distancing. While many people are refusing to follow social distancing guidelines, Johannsdottir decided to knit ‘scary masks.’ While the masks are not necessarily the most protective, her purpose is not for safety but instead to scare people into taking the Coronavirus seriously with the masks containing huge mouths and sharp teeth. She does not plan on mass producing them, but her goal is to make a statement about the seriousness of the situation.

Some Latino designers have even been using the concept of creating fashion from a cover on your mouth into a method of cultural expression. Ashley Nell Tipton, winner of Season 14 of “Project Runway,” has been shifting the focus of her company to making face masks, having donated 5,000 masks to healthcare workers and selling another 2,000. Her belief behind the cultural masks aligns with the concept that if she needs to wear a mask, she wants to have some deep meaning behind it. Some of the designs include Mexican Painter Frida Kahlo and the card game Lotería, as well as other cultural symbols.

While masks have become a necessary part of our society for the time being, that does not mean that we should fret. We can still be fashionable while staying safe. So while we should be keeping safe, maybe we should also take advantage of looking good and protecting ourselves and others.