Face Masks: Necessity and fashion statement


Coutesy of Maeve Smarick

Maeve Smarick working on face masks to sell.

Usually, we buy earrings, scarves, shoes, even key chain accessories to style any type of outfit. Now, we add a mask. Beyond a political argument or a health issue, masks are becoming a new must-have accessory to match our outfits. 

Students and staff are expected to wear masks when they are at school or any time they are in public.  It is more than a cloth barrier–it’s the new Louis Vuitton bag of fashion. 

Many companies and fashion designers have taken a step back from normal production to create face masks. Companies like Old Navy, American Eagle, and Hollister have been making their own masks since the outbreak across the country of the virus in March 2020. And, with Halloween in just a few weeks, advertisements are featuring fall and halloween themed masks.

Even before Covid-19, masks were a big fashion trend in places like Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, and Singapore. At first, it was a sign of rebellion from the pro-democracy street activists who wore them to hide from facial recognition cameras all over the city. But the mask was also a way to stop from breathing in diesel-laden, foul air, and to prevent someone from catching an airborne illness. 

Top models and fashion designers are posting on social media about different ways to style a mask or they are posting masks that they were inspired to make. Designer Christian Siriano,  turned his focus to creating masks after the Governor of New York, Andrew Cumono, pleaded to the public to wear masks. 

Since then, Siriano held his New York Fashion Week runway show at his home in Connecticut. Siriano showcased his Spring 2021 collection; each piece had a matching mask that the models wore. To practice social distancing, guests were spaced six feet apart from each other and wore masks. 

During Paris Fashion Week March 2020, masks were not yet mandatory. In Paris, a few design houses offered disposable masks to their guests, but not many took them. The masks were plain; basic white and black disposable masks. Many people were surprised that top designers didn’t have designed masks to give out to guests. 

Once the CDC changed their guidelines are said wearing face masks was mandatory, it seems everyone is selling masks. Etsy is filled with new mask designs, and designers are focusing more on making masks than new dresses. Ronald van der Kemp is making unique masks to benefit refugees in Amsterdam. His masks come in all different shapes and designs. From Swarovski crystals, gold chains, broken mirrors, polka dots, and fringes, his masks don’t disappoint. The only downside is that the masks are for auction and the biddings are high; One of the masks sold for $1,320.90.

Ronald van der Kemp Face Masks (Emily Lotito)

Students are joining the entrepreneurs.

Maeve Smarick, a junior, started making masks when Covid-19 cases started rising. She started at first making the masks for her service project for her Catholic church confirmation program, but then it turned into a business. 

“When Covid-19 started rising, my mom sent me a video on how to make them [face masks]. I made about 75 and then people started to offer to pay for them and I had all my service hours so I took the opportunity,” Smarick said. 

Many companies have made face masks that come in packs, but many don’t have double sided masks like Smarick makes herself. 

“I use 100% cotton fabric and elastics. I used two pieces so the masks are double sided and you can choose two different fabrics.” 

Compared to big companies,  Smarick’s prices are hard to beat.

“I sell my masks for $8 each and then two for $15. Kids masks are $6 each,”  she said.

What are Smarick’s plans for her business? Will she continue to sell her masks? 

“My summer job is over and I can make money by selling my masks. I can also work on my sewing skills and learn a lot about having a business,” said Maeve.