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In response to Trump’s recent advisory for all citizens to wear a mask in public, many fashion icons and companies have taken on the challenge of producing masks. In the past month, sales of basic fabric masks have skyrocketed, leaving the country in a shortage of masks. Because about 25% of people infected with COVID-19, or Coronavirus, are asymptomatic, wearing a mask in public can help limit the spread of it. Therefore, new initiatives by fashion companies have started to produce sustainable, inexpensive masks for the public. These masks are not meant to replace the N95 masks worn by healthcare workers, but intended to stop the spread of the virus and help business stay in production. It is not only beneficial for the thousands of workers who are currently unemployed due to the halt in production, but is also a necessary safety precaution. 

From the costume industry to Gucci, here are some examples of remarkable initiatives to tackle this problem: 

  1. Mask Crusaders: This group of 100 sewers and runners make and deliver masks to all parts of the country from their homes. The sewers are using the optimal materials and methods to limit transmission of the virus and finding unique patterns online to sew on the masks.

  2. Designer Christian Siriano: Project Runway winner and designer for the likes of Michele Obama has also agreed to help the effort with producing masks. These masks will not contain his labels and will be plain white. The goal is really to help workers, stop the pandemic, and aid in the mass distribution of masks. 

  3. Los Angeles Apparel: The successor to American Apparel is now offering a three-pack of masks available in lots of colors for purchase on their website. 

  4. Eileen Fisher: This clothing company has started making cotton masks. Employees are either working in factories while maintaining social distancing (sewing machines are kept 6 ft apart) or are working from home. 

  5. KES: For every mask purchased, another mask will be donated to a healthcare worker. They are washable and come in shades like berry and ivory.

Other companies such as Reformation and Citizens of Humanity have masks available for purchase on their websites. Some masks, however, are not made to protect you against Corona, so be sure to check that these masks are designed for the virus and not purely fashion purposes. 

These masks offer a little self expression in times when sweat suits and pajamas are the only contenders in your wardrobe. For anyone who is bored at home and looking for a project, there are lots of tutorials on instagram and YouTube of how to create your own mask. These tutorials instruct you how to create the most efficient mask to protect yourself against Corona and also offer patterns to customize your mask according to your style. While this new order to wear masks may take some adjustment time, many famous YouTubers are here to help. One example is SSUZNY, a South Korean YouTuber, who has posted makeup tutorials of how to apply makeup centered around the mask. Many other celebrities have also posted pictures of masks they created or bought to inspire others to do the same. So, if you are bored at home, sewing or purchasing a mask is the perfect way to make a fashion statement while providing a social good. In this highly stressful time, a little creativity and self expression can go a long way. 

Sammie is a sophmore at Brown studying Behavioral Decision Sciences.
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