Masks on! (in style)…

The more fashionable just could not help but be more creative to transform the humble piece of protective equipment into a must-have item

by HARIZAH KAMEL / Source: Fiziwoo’s Facebook

THE year 2020 has so far been rather blurry for most. One thing is certain, though, the face mask has somehow been inevitably catapulted as the mandatory No 1 essential piece that one must always wear in public areas.

The device is rather prevalent in Asian countries and Malaysia is no stranger to it.

In recent years, the face masks were typically worn during the season of the haze, “an annual event” in many countries in the region.

These days, the Covid-19 pandemic seems to have “empowered” the face mask to more than just a simple filter. It now works as a shield, protecting our health from the deadly virus.

Since wearing face masks is the new norm, the more fashionable just could not help but be more creative to transform the humble piece of protective equipment into a must-have item.

The F Word

Made with luxurious materials, Khoon Hooi’s masks are upcycled from both cotton and polyester-mix fabrics and motifs curated from the brand’s archives – khoonhooi.com

Fashion-wise, face coverings have always been a statement piece of luxury fashion houses such as Maison Margiela and Alexander McQueen, to name a few.

However, the face mask is no longer just a statement but a necessity. So, are we shocked when fashion designers took it upon themselves to have more creative licence on the face mask in the pandemic era?

Who would want to buy these stylish face masks?, one might ask. Well, art is an allegory and there are no factual answers to it. Don’t be surprised, for some fashionistas out there, there is a mask for every occasion.

It may sound tedious as most people would not have the zeal to coordinate an outfit with a face mask, but look no further than Lady Gaga at the recent MTV Video Music Awards where she donned nine different outfits for the event alone, along with some outrageous yet matching face coverings and masks.

While her ensembles are bound to add fuel to the face mask debate that has been dividing the US, no doubt it will spark inspiration among the fashion industry as well as global audiences.

Local and Stylish

The limited edition ‘Guns N’ Roses’ mask. Looi’s stand out Limited Edition Fabric Mask has 5 layers and a filter pocket for PM2.5 filter inserts – www.melindalooi.com

Local designers have also been conceiving their versions of the face mask, often with a personal touch that represents their brand.

It is worth to notice that fashion brands that come up with their face masks do put a disclaimer stating along the lines “not intended for use in a medical setting” such as Fiziwoo with his Essential Collection.

The Woo Mask, as it’s cleverly called, promotes unity in times of great crisis. The brand even said it will support the local creative industry and champion sustainability through the collection.

Retailed at RM47.90, the washable non-medical mask is made from polyblend, satin silk lining and features knicker elastic ear loops for a little stretch and a lot of comfort.

There is also the Orchard face mask from Fiziwoo’s Orchard Series that has durian and pisang emas prints with colours inspired by the dawn setting of fruit orchards. These quirky masks retailed at RM57.90.

Luxury brand Khoon Hooi’s version of the face mask displayed the label’s essence with its clean-cut fabrics and finest textures.

Made with luxurious materials, the washable masks are upcycled from both cotton and polyester-mix fabrics and motifs curated from the brand’s archives.

According to its website, the mask features triple-layer protection with an inside slip opening for a disposable filter, a built-in nose clip, adjustable stopper for straps and comes with an additional five-layer refillable filter.

Khoon Hooi’s Alice face mask for women retails close to RM100, while its exclusive Sutherland twin pack for men is worth a little over RM188. Additionally, its Junior face mask for children cost between RM74 to RM139.

Meanwhile, Melinda Looi’s stand out Limited Edition Fabric Mask has five layers, a filter pocket for PM2.5 filter inserts and comes with two pieces of disposable filter inserts.

The fashion masks come in different price points, ranging from RM68 and RM98. For the made-to-order design which is both hand-beaded and hand-embroidered, the price is RM288, taking around seven days for production.

All of Looi’s face masks notably comply with the latest Health Ministry and World Health Organisation criteria of a minimum three-layer face mask.

Hyped Brands

The AIRism Mask provides 99% bacterial filtration to protect the skin from bacteria and pollen – www.uniqlo.com

If designer duds are not one’s cup of tea, preferring more to streetwear, Uniqlo Co Ltd’s AIRism Mask may just be the next big thing following good feedback after its release in Japan.

The mask’s unique triple-layer structure reportedly enhances the performance of the mask and the 99% bacterial filtration at the centre is to protect the skin from bacteria and pollen.

The triple-layer structure also has a 50 rating on ultraviolet protection factor which cuts out 90% of ultraviolet rays.

The mask is available in three sizes; small (18cm x 12cm), medium (22cm x 14cm) and large (23cm x 14.5cm).

For those leaning towards sportswear, leading sports company Under Armour Inc also has its very own reusable face mask designed specifically for exercising.

The UA SPORTSMASK is the first-of-its-kind mask that functions to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets by the wearer and retails at RM109.

The water-resistant performance face mask made for maximum breathability features a three-layer model engineered for athletes consists of air pockets, open-cell foam, as well as UA iso-chill treated with PROTX2, a non-metal anti-microbial technology which inhibits the growth of bacteria on the mask.

With these two big brands capitalising on their own face mask products, it is safe to say more brands will follow suit.