Way back in March of 2020, Christian Siriano, the young and prominent New York luxury designer, made headlines when he converted his fashion house into a face mask sewing factory to donate fabric masks to New York’s frontline workers. The generous move was bold, yet, flash forward a few months, and the CDC now recommends that every American wears a face mask in public to contain the spread of Covid-19 and encourage social distancing. Little did we know, Siriano became the first of many fashion houses to begin using their stock fabrics to sell and donate masks. On May 19th, Nordstrom became the latest prominent brand to start selling packs of masks (six for 24$), marking the first department store to produce its own.
Who else is selling?
With face masks becoming the latest “it” accessory of 2020 (thanks @corona), it isn’t difficult to find cute masks from popular brands with various signature prints. Reformation, the popular eco-friendly LA-based company, known for its breezy and fashion-forward basics, started a mask initiative towards the beginning of the pandemic after California required them to momentarily shut down distribution centers. They sewed masks in their trademarked prints for donation while setting up a “buy one, give one” system. Consumers can buy a mask or two online, and Reformation will match their purchase with a mask donation to people in need. Other print-friendly brands such as Anthropology and Lilly Pulitzer have recently started selling masks to consumers after they created and donated them to hospital workers and others at the heart of the pandemic.
It’s no secret that the fashion industry and retail are struggling. However, with the emergence of a “new normal,” brands are capitalizing on the chance to promote a new accessory and realm of the business while creating news coverage and positive PR strategies. With brands struggling with profits, masks have the potential to help boost sales while staying relevant with current events. Americans are embracing the face mask as best as they can, showing off sports team pride, coordinating outfits and being creative. Fashion, as an industry that mimics daily trends and habits of people, has embraced this, letting a positive image shine while contributing to the crisis in the masses.