Wearing masks has become the new normal; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), masks “help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice.” The CDC came to their recommendation of wearing masks because of the large role that respiratory droplets play in the spread of the infectious disease. Additionally, there has been evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows that wearing masks is an effective tactic for reducing the spread of the droplets. In response to CDC’s recommendation, Tufts is requiring all students “to wear face coverings that cover their mouth and nose at all times when another person is within six feet of them, in both indoor and outdoor spaces, both on and off campus,” according to the Fall 2020 Campus Guide for students in the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering. Since people are now wearing masks for a large portion of their days, there has been an impressive response from the fashion community to aid in the production of masks and provide masks that have elevated style from the average blue medical masks.
Given that the current pandemic has thrust masks into the spotlight as one of the most commonly worn accessories, the designers at New York Fashion Week responded by featuring masks heavily. Christian Siriano’s socially distanced show at his home in Westport, Conn. displayed beautiful designs that were accompanied by equally stylish masks. Although the mix of Siriano’s voluminous, colorful and dramatic gowns and masks felt very unconventional, it oddly felt like a celebration of things that are still possible in a time when so much is being restricted. It should be noted that Siriano was one of the first designers to aid in the production of masks all the way back in March. He reassigned many of his seamstresses in New York in an attempt to make a few thousand masks a week. Collina Strada was another designer that featured masks heavily in her spring 2021 collection which was displayed in a film called “Change Is Cute” (2021). The brand included a side-tie, tie-dye mask designed by Hillary Taymour that has been on the market for a little bit and a new satin style that was shaped like a flower. Finally, one more designer which included masks in their spring 2021 collections was Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet. Alice + Olivia announced on April 6th that they would be donating 5,000 face masks to medical centers all around the country. They also announced that they would be selling fashionable masks and donating a mask to the medical community for every mask that was purchased. For their spring 2021 collection, Alice + Olivia added even more options for masks by displaying a coordinating mask for nearly every look.
One of the many side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that there has been a drastic increase in the usage of disposable face masks. There has been some concern that the increase in usage of these products will result in increased ocean pollution. While there are certainly times that the safest and best option is a disposable, single-use mask, some consumers may want to purchase a more environmentally sustainable option. Mentioned earlier, the eco-conscious brand Collina Strada offers masks that have sustainability in mind, since they are made from deadstock material. For every purchase of one face covering, Collina Strada will provide three masks to Seeding Sovereignty, an organization that is running a mask drive for Indigenous communities in and outside of New Mexico that are underserved and especially at risk. However, with the Collina Strada masks costing $100, they are certainly not the most affordable option. But there is no need to worry because there is no shortage of affordable and environmentally sustainable mask options. One option is the Nisolo Upcycled Linen & Cotton Lined Mask. This face covering is minimalist in appearance and is made by a local Nashville artist using deadstock linen, cotton and hemp fabrics. Onzie offers a stretchy and quick-drying option that they make from upcycled fabrics from their yoga clothing. These are just two brands of many options for affordable masks.
With so many options for face coverings, there is really no excuse for not wearing one to protect yourself and your community as everyone battles through these trying times together. With so many fashion brands offering stylish options, there is no reason to ruin your wonderful outfit with a less-wonderful mask!