The world is opening up, whether we like it or not. The once abandoned spaces of lockdown are now becoming increasingly crowded. Mandatory mask rules are becoming the norm across Canada and much of the world. If wearing a mask will be the deciding factor between being locked at home or moving on with our lives, why not put one on? While we are at it, why not look good doing so?
Wearing a mask has been a bit of a controversial topic, especially in the Western world, with some outright refusing to wear one in the name of personal freedoms. This rhetoric would be wildly out of place in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan or South Korea to name a few, where wearing a mask is not only the norm, it is frowned upon to go without one when sick. They are ingrained in the culture and it is considered the most responsible thing to do in order to keep the population safe. They are not just used for sickness however, with people wearing them to protect themselves from allergies, pollution or even simply for when they could not wear makeup, akin to wearing a hat on a bad hair day. It is common for masks to be worked into one’s aesthetic and occasionally they are worn strictly for fashion.
Wearing a cloth mask not only protects oneself and others, they save the medical grade masks for healthcare employees. The market value of reusable face masks is expected to reach $170 million by 2025. Designers have been switching gears from garments to face mask to cash in on the growing need for masks, as well as to keep their teams working. Brands like Roots and Old Navy have begun stocking masks. On Etsy, 250 pages of product appear under the search “face mask”, the majority of which are cloth masks. Designer Christian Siriano was recently granted funding from the State of New York to manufacture masks for non-medical public service employees.
For those who know how to sew, a mask is a cinch to pull together but for those without the time or resources, purchasing a mask is the best option. It is also the more environmentally friendly option, compared to purchasing package after package of singe-use medical masks. If you are looking for a way to support your favourite designers during this time, buying the masks they produce is a great way to start. There are many Canadian brands worth supporting during this time, here are a few to check out if you are not sure who to get your next mask from:
Atelier Grandi – Vancouver
Launched by designer Grandy C. in 2014, the atelier offers contemporary, bespoke demi-couture for women. These hand-made in Vancouver face masks are lightweight and come with a filter pocket.
La Femme Roje – Vancouver
Founded by Rojan Hooshyar in 2013, La Femme Roje got its start by offering handcrafted footwear. Their masks are created with leftover materials from their stock and include a filter.
Lord Violet – Montreal/Edmonton
Launched by Nicola Inman, Lord Violet offered luxurious yet edgy jewellery inspired by BDSM and film noir. Their masks are created with two layers of soft and slightly stretchy fabric.
Narces – Toronto
Nikki Wirthensohn Yassemi launched Narces in 2011. The label specializes in all things special occasion, from evening and cocktail dresses to bridal gowns. Their multi-layer masks include a filter pocket and for every mask sold, two or more are donated.
Style by Sarai – Vancouver
Style by Sarai began as a passion project for founder Jason Sarai. What started as luxury consulting company in 2012 expanded in 2014 to offer bespoke clothing services. Style by Sarai masks are made in Vancouver using high quality fabrics from European mills.
Special Non-Canadian Mention: Fiori Couture – California
Fiori Couture, by designer and stylist Susan Lafica, offers the most enchanting and elegant handcrafted garments and accessories. Fiori has a variety of mask styles available, all of which will make you feel as though you are wearing pieces of art.