By Joi Bass
Well, it has been over three months since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the United States. Since then, not only has our society drastically changed, but things we viewed as very minuscule became essential in helping us get through this global pandemic. Many of us can agree we weren’t prepared for an outbreak like this. Unlike H1N1, influenza or the Spanish Flu, COVID-19 has brought out the fear in all of us. This fear has caused us to stock up on key items like groceries, disinfectant wipes, toilet paper, gloves and wide-range cleaners.
However, one essential item has been vital: the face mask. Since the outbreak in mid-March, the need for masks has increased significantly. People began to struggle. Not only were masks being completely wiped off store shelves, the ones people were able to find became very expensive and it caused everyone to feel like they were stuck between a rock and a hard place.
However, one thing that I believe COVID-19 has taught us, while it may sound cliche, is to turn a negative into a positive. During the pandemic, the fashion industry has been hit very hard. Events like New York Fashion Week and designer launches have been canceled and many retailers had to temporarily close their doors, causing millions of their employees to become unemployed. On the other hand, the industry has used this time to not only reflect but even come up with some surprising new trends.
During the beginning of quarantine, tie-dye outfits were a huge hit amongst millions of hunker downers. Cute and comfy was brought to the next level and people began making their own tie-dye loungewear. Now that we are in month three of the pandemic, many states are now slowly starting to get back to normal. Restaurants and retail stores are opening back up and events are being held at 50% capacity. However, many governors across the United States have issued mandates stating that all citizens have to wear a mask or face covering when out in public.
Now that everything is slowly going back to normal, I believe that masks have now become what I call an accidental trend. Masks are on everyone’s mind which is why I believe that this trend has become so unexpected. According to Vogue, masks will become the breakout trend of the summer. As we all know, the fashion industry is very innovative and has a unique gift of creating something positive in this new reality.
In addition, while this is a huge adjustment to all of us, I believe that this accidental trend has benefits. According to CNN, people aren’t just using face masks as protective gear anymore. Masks are truly becoming a fashion statement. One thing that I noticed during the pandemic is that people are using their masks to show off their personality.
I always believed that clothes can say a lot about a person, but now a mask can say a lot about someone’s personality. I consider myself an extrovert—I love being around people and many often consider me a smiley person. So the fact that we now have to wear masks out in public was difficult knowing that my interactions with people aren’t as open anymore. However after seeing people use their masks to make statements about their personality, politics and beliefs, it made me feel optimistic.
Sites like Etsy are now making it their mission to showcase their interest in selling masks that are personal to every customer. In addition, multiple brands such as Fashion Nova, Reformation and Collina Strada are selling masks with pretty patterns, colors, catchy phrases and even silly faces to allow their customers to show off their personalities while out in public.
While brands are recognizing that masks are now becoming a trend, some new brands are being formed. Mask Club was launched just last month. The company offers people a subscription to receive masks monthly. The company has licensing deals with NASA and Warner Bros. And Hasbro allows customers to purchase masks that not only match their mood but also masks with lovable characters such as Elmo, The Power Puff Girls, Hello Kitty and Batman.
The most important benefit to this trend is the fact that masks are now giving people the opportunity to give back. This time during COVID-19 emphasized the importance of doing your part in order to help save lives. Now companies are recognizing just how significant it is to give back. One company that I recently found and have fallen in love with is Chic Tweak. This company has beautiful yet inexpensive masks and 10% of the proceeds from each purchase go to organizations on the front lines.
Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta once said, “Fashion is a trend, style is within a person.” Of course, many trends quickly fade but I believe that since masks are such an essential item during this troubling time, we can use this trend as an opportunity—to showcase who we are as individuals, what we stand for and do our part to help those around us while staying protected.
Joi Bass is an editorial writer who specializes in social justice, mental health advocacy, online safety and the well-being of our youth. You can follow her on Instagram.