Face masks aren’t a new invention. In several countries in East Asia, they have become a cultural norm in recent years. The SARS outbreak in 2003 emphasised the importance of wearing a mask in public and is one way in which we can reduce the spread of disease and illness. It’s also a popular form of protection against pollutant air in the densely-populated cities of China, Hong Kong and Japan.
The horrific pandemic, which has swept across the globe in recent months, has highlighted how quickly illnesses can spread. Combined with other practices, such as frequent hand washing with soap and water, several countries have acknowledged that we can flatten the curve and improve our hygienic behaviour through wearing these face masks.
And it’s becoming likely that beyond this crisis, the new norm will include wearing masks in public. The designers of the Western world are beginning to recognise these as a fashionable accessory. A reusable, washable mask could be as complementary to our outfits as a neck scarf or a pair of socks. And, if our instincts are right, we really need to look at how we can make these fashionable. After all, it’s going to be one of the first things that we will notice in an outfit. It stands out somewhat.
We saw the first creative masks hit the catwalks in Paris earlier this year. French designer Marine Serre included veils and face masks in her collections. And now, other fashion designers and apparel brands have begun to explore what the future holds for the face mask.