Can something really be considered a trend if it’s government mandated? Either way, masks of every style are now being sported by (almost) everyone, and it looks as if they’re here to stay.
Even during a pandemic, fashion is of utmost importance to many college students. Although the disposable surgical mask is breathable and affordable, many have found it lacking a certain pizzazz and, conscious of environmental concerns, have turned to the more novel reusable cloth mask. As a result, the face mask industry is booming, offering masks in a variety of colours, patterns, and materials, ranging from your standard cotton mask to silk equivalents.
Sustainable and stylish face coverings can be an asset to any wardrobe. Depop, for instance, is flooded with affordable options that are as fashionable as they are functional, and often come with a matching scrunchy. Irish designers have also been quick to tackle the trend, such as Aisling Duffy whose patchwork face coverings are made from her signature printed and upcycled fabrics, sequins, and ribbons.
For those interested in some mask-related benevolence, many face masks can be purchased with the knowledge that a portion of the sale price is going directly to charity. An example of this is the “buy one, gift one” campaign which aims to protect those living in direct provision against coronavirus. Likewise, for each reusable cloth mask bought from the social enterprise wemakegood.ie, another is donated to someone living in direct provision. These linen face masks are made by women, formerly of refugee status, who now work for The Textile Studio. Those living in direct provision centres are especially vulnerable in these difficult times, so if you’re looking to buy a new mask and help those in need of one, this is the perfect solution for you.
Now, imagine – you are on your way into college and halfway through the journey you realise that you have forgotten your mask. Well, never fear! You can make your own emergency face mask in a few easy steps. All you will need is some kind of material – a thin scarf or bandana would work quite well – and two rubber bands.
Firstly, fold the material into the middle from both the top and the bottom. Repeat this step again so that the material is in a smaller rectangle. Then, wrap two rubber bands around each side, keeping them close to the edges. Finally, fold both sides into the middle, and voila! You’ve got your makeshift mask.
In such stressful times, you might ask: why does anyone care about the pattern and material of their face mask? After all, it’s meant to be a preventative garment, not a fashion statement. I think the answer to this lies in what the requirement of face coverings has taken away from us – the ability to communicate through our facial expressions. Without this, it can often feel as if we have lost some sense of self.
So, if walking around the Arts Block wearing a bedazzled mask made from fine silk makes you feel better about the depressing global situation we now find ourselves in, far be it for me, or anyone else for that matter, to question it.