Fashion has always had a way of taking our core wardrobe essentials — outerwear, underwear, and everything in between — and turning them into statement pieces. Consider the trusty trench coat, for example, which was originally created to shield soldiers from the elements but, over time, turned into one of the most distinctive utility apparel items a person could own. And don't get us started on how the functional bike short has morphed into a top streetwear trend that will not go away (even after its initial rise and fall in the '90s). It's no surprise, then, that the protective face coverings we've been advised (and in some cases, ordered) to wear outdoors to curb the spread of the coronavirus have quickly been embraced and beautified by the fashion world.
"It just felt like there was a need [for a stylish face mask]," says Hillary Taymour, founder of the sustainable clothing brand Collina Strada. "I was wearing brightly colored masks walking over the bridge daily to the studio and it put a smile on everyone’s face. So why not bring that to the general public?"
Taymour began producing non-medical face masks in mid-March, drawing on the crafty skills of model and friend Sasha Melnychuk to design something protective yet personal. The final product was a remarkable marriage of motifs featuring Collina Strada's signature ribbons — a fixture of the brand's runway shows — and the vibrant patterns of already available deadstock fabric. This kind of creative take on meeting consumer needs during the pandemic allows shoppers to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines without losing touch with the familiarity of their personal style. Masks may still feel like an unusual addition to our daily routines because of the way they conceal the parts of ourselves that are normally exposed, but that doesn't mean our identities have to be hidden too. By opting for the right print to suit your own aesthetic and making a purchase you know will benefit those in need, wearing a face mask can become more than just our collective responsibility — it can be an entirely new form of self-expression.
"With every purchase [of a Collina Strada mask], you are donating five masks to healthcare workers," Taymour says. "The design just brings a little sunshine during one of the most difficult times we have seen in this lifetime."
Taymour was one of many designers to pivot to non-medical face mask production with the goal of giving back as the coronavirus crisis hit its devastating crescendo. Companies like Reformation and Sanctuary also reacted quickly by organizing local manufacturers to do the same using fabrics from their warehouses. New York-based label Alice+Olivia announced that it would donate 5,000 face masks to medical centers around the country while selling consumer-friendly options online. In addition to equipping customers with the coverings they need, founder Stacey Bendet pointed out a greater purpose of this initiative: "Let's show support for our community and the doctors, nurses, delivery workers, and first responders who are combatting this crisis on the front lines,” she said in a press release. The more non-medical face masks made available to the public, the less of a strain there will be on the medical-grade materials our heroes on the front lines require to protect themselves on the job.
Ahead, we've rounded up a list of fashion brands that are enhancing the process of mask manufacturing with their unique brands of sartorial savoir-faire. Face coverings are a crucial way for us to keep one another safe when we're in public, and they aren't going anywhere. So go ahead and get comfortable with one that speaks to your own style, be that in the form of something upcycled, a badass camo print, delicate florals — even toile, if that's your thing. You do you, as long as you're doing it responsibly.
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Marc Jacobs Upcycled Face Covering
Each limited-edition protective face covering by Marc Jacobs features a unique patchwork design fashioned out of upcycled materials from past collections. Pre-order yours today knowing that 100% of proceeds from your purchase will support UNICEF USA in their urgent response to COVID-19, helping the most at-risk communities around the world.
Marc Jacobs Upcycled Face Covering, $, available at Marc Jacobs
Collina Strada Fashion Face Mask With Bows
Collina Strada is a fashionable platform for climate awareness, social awareness, change, and self-expression — all of which come together in the designer's beautifully made face masks. The masks, made from deadstock materials, fasten with delightfully patterned bows and feature an opening to insert your filter inside. With the purchase of one mask for yourself, you will also be providing five more to healthcare workers in New York City.
Collina Strada Fashion Face Mask With Bows, $, available at Collina Strada
Nisolo Upcycled Linen & Cotton Lined Mask
Handmade by the local Nashville artist behind the apparel company Emlee, these masks feature a trendy two-tone pattern cut to fit your face. Each mask is hand-sewn by local seamstresses using deadstock linen, cotton, and hemp fabrics and lined with 100% USA-made cotton twill for comfort.
EMLEE Upcycled Linen & Cotton Lined Mask, $, available at Nisolo
Alice + Olivia Staceface Adjustable Face Mask
Since the beginning of this outbreak, fashion brand Alice + Olivia has been mobilizing its teams to create and distribute protective masks to hospitals and communities in need. Now, they're helping to stop community spread with non-medical protective masks made available to the public. The masks, featuring the brand’s iconic “Stace Face” pattern, are made from jersey material for reuse, wash-ability, and comfort. Plus, for every mask sold, Alice + Olivia will donate one to the medical community and beyond.
Alice + Olivia Staceface Adjustable Face Mask, $, available at Alice + Olivia
Vera Bradley Cotton Face Mask
Vera Bradley quickly converted their Fort Wayne sewing facility to manufacture cotton face masks to help protect essential workers and the general public — and it comes as no surprise that you can choose between all sorts of the brand's signature paisley prints and brightly colored motifs. These non-medical masks are made from soft cotton and feature dual-layer protection with an inside slip opening for a disposable filter. Plus, from now through May 31, the company will donate a percentage of its net sales from this product to the American Nurses Foundation Coronavirus Response Fund.
Vera Bradley Cotton Face Mask (Non-Medical), $, available at Vera Bradley
Onzie 2-Pack Protective Face Masks
Revolve, the retailer known for its trendy clothing labels and glossy Instagram campaigns, is now offering 2-packs of re-usable face masks with elastic straps (with the option of a tie-dye print, of course!) from the brand Onzie — now available on pre-order with an estimated delivery date of May 30.
Onzie 2 Pack Protective Face Masks, $, available at Revolve
Karina Grimaldi Amanda Face Mask
Also available for pre-order on Revolve are double-layered face masks with a viscose satin-twill overlay by Karina Grimald. The estimated delivery date for this style is May 18, and the red and green floating leaf motif feels like it's fresh off a tropical island — where you'll find us mentally residing for the remainder of the week.
Karina Grimaldi Amanda Face Mask, $, available at Revolve
While The RealReal is known and loved for being the largest online marketplace for authenticated, consigned luxury goods, the site has also become host to a designer mask sale in support of frontline workers in partnership with Fashion Girls for Humanity. The goal is to support the fashion community during these difficult times while also offering new, non-medical grade masks with 100% of the proceeds being donated to Gowns For Good Made in America. You can even shop decorative accessories to layer on top of your mask to add some major edge to your look, like this upcycled, beaded style from Gypsy Sport.
Gypsy Sport Tangerine Decorative Mask, $, available at The RealReal
Giovanna Watercolor Gingham Face Mask
For gingham that's prettier than a picnic blanket, check out the new face mask styles from New York-based lifestyle brand Giovanna. After making 500 masks for donation, the company has shifted to manufacturing a shoppable online collection for women, men, and teens. Each mask has a double layer of cotton and an additional layer of interfacing for extra filtration, and for every mask sold Giovanna will donate funds to cover the cost of an N95 mask for RETI's Rapid Resilience program.
Giovanna Watercolor Gingham Face Mask, $, available at Giovanna
The Mighty Company Metallic Face Mask
Look no further than the online retailer Shopbop as your trusty resource for finding trendy reusbale face masks — like this bright pink style made from a lightweight jersey material featuring a striking metallic finish.
The Mighty Company Face Covering With Metallic Finish, $, available at Shopbop
Heroine Sport 3-Piece Metallic Cloth Face Covering Set
Dare we suggest we've detected somewhat of a metallic trend happening here? Saks Fifth Avenue is also selling shimmery nylon face covering options that can be washed by hand and feature a mesh interior lining. This set is currently available on pre-order and expecting to ship no later than June 1.
Heroine Sport 3-Piece Metallic Cloth Face Covering Set, $, available at Saks Fifth Avenue
Wolford Care Face Covering
But if you're not one for shiny fabrics and funky patterns, keep it sleek and simple with this black, double-layered option from the hosiery brand Wolford — available on Shopbop.
Wolford Care Face Covering, $, available at Shopbop
Madewell 3-Pack Non-Medical Face Masks
Each one of these Madewell masks is crafted from leftover fabric scraps, which means every color is a limited edition. They are designed to fit over the top of the nose and below the chin. In addition to launching washable and reusable face masks for their customers, Madewell and J.Crew have donated 75,000 single-use face masks to Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
Madewell Three-Pack Non-Medical Face Masks, $, available at Madewell
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