Demand for face masks increased exponentially when the coronavirus hit.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he wears masks in public to protect himself and others. In addition to helping mitigate the spread of COVID-19, many players in the fashion industry say they are now fashion-friendly.
“(The mask) has become a fashion tool you can play with,” said Chicago artist Isabelle Gougenheim.
Gougenheim explained that she used street arts in her mask designs. Part of his inspiration comes from graffiti, and his designs allow people who have been at home for a long time to feel the outside world.
When demand for masks increased, Gougenheim paired the mask with a scarf, using the same design on both and selling them together as a bundle, she said.
However, customers then asked if they could purchase just the mask. Gougenheim then separated the mask from the scarf and sold the two separately.
“My take on masks is that they’re like socks and underwear,” said Amalia Malos, owner of Evanston Stitchworks. “Everyone needs them, and they need to be clean. “
Malos said a mask is now a necessary accompaniment to an outfit due to the pandemic. She added that it is important to find a mask that is suitable and that the person feels comfortable in.
Evanston Stitchworks doesn’t offer custom masks, but the store has a variety of fabric and solid prints that customers can choose from to match their outfits, Malos said.
Assembly Creators Market owner Reyes Witt said some of the masks in her shop were designed by artists in the Chicago area. Fifty percent of the profits go directly to the artists.
“It keeps people working,” Witt said. “I can’t convey to people enough how important it is to buy face masks from small independent (businesses) right now because that’s how they stay alive.”
Witt said different masks fit different lifestyles: some are safer, while others are more flexible and weigh less. Everyone should have five to 10 face masks, she said, so they can choose a mask that best suits their business. For a trip to the grocery store, a safer mask might make sense, she said. But if someone comes in and out of somewhere, she suggested they might want a “quick and easy” mask.
For Witt, a mask is an accessory that can make a person cute or powerful, and then that mask is no different from a necklace that matches the outfit.
“I think it’s really important that we get to know face masks and stop looking clinical with them,” Witt said. “It’s very important that masks don’t look scary… people can still look cool.”
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