Back in January 2020, when coronavirus wasn’t yet declared a
pandemic, US singer Billie Eilish raised eyebrows at the Grammy Awards, as she donned
a Gucci designer face mask. Recently, fashion illustrator and designer Jenny
Walton was trending on Instagram for making herself a face mask out of a
pale-pink Prada dust bag.
Now that wearing of face masks in public settings, including your quick trips to the grocery store, has been made mandatory in many states to control the spread of COVID-19, the demand for masks has sky-rocketed. The fashion world has stepped up to the occasion. International fashion brands such as Gucci, GQ, Arrow, Louis Vuitton, Christian Siriano, Zara, H&M, and Prada have reopened their factories for making, selling and even donating non-medical grade face masks. In the process they have helped change the social perception of wearing masks from a liability to a fashion statement and have added a sense of cheer in melancholic times.
Designers in India aren’t lagging behind either. Designer Nivedita Saboo of Nivedita Saboo Couture is using her production facility to manufacture reusable face masks, using soft breathable shell fabrics and comfortable ear loops. Designer duo Shivan and Narresh are giving away cotton-jersey masks with every order placed on their website. While Delhi-based designaer Manish Tripathi has been crafting cotton, khadi, jamdani and ikat masks from leftover fabric; he also plans on making denim ones. While these masks are available for sale on designermasks.in, Tripathi has also been distributing them to vulnerable communities with the help of police officials.
As part of her initiative Maskaba, designer Masaba Gupta’s team has been making and donating non-surgical masks from fabric meant for producing garments.
Couturiers Shyamal & Bhumika too have opened shop with an aim to donate about 25,000 washable masks utilising their fabric stockpile.
Delhi-based designer Nitya Bajaj’s facemasks featuring her signature floral print in yellow, black, and white, are made using the waste scrap from her factory. In addition to selling them online with no delivery charges, she distributes them among street children.
Anita Dongre of The House of Anita Dongre has been using the fabric purchased for her labels AND, Global Desi for masks.
The designer intends to stitch up to 7,000 cloth masks per week and donate to NGOs and hospital staff.
Mumbai-based Neeta Lulla has been making masks of cotton
linen and thick cotton jersey, and so far, managed producing and distributing
800 masks among vegetables vendors, taxi drivers and others in the city.
Making fashion meet coronavirus, Mumbai-based designer Mayur
Saroj Rajput, has turned his face masks into statement pieces of sorts.
Putting his fashion skills to work, he’s come up with a mask inspired by Lady Gaga's 2019 Met Gala look, a metal chain mask inspired by the ornamental waist belts worn by belly dancers.
By upcycling his old face mask and using a pair of old denims, he also aims at drawing attention to the need for sustainability in times of a healthcare crisis.
Mumbai-based label, Karleo founded by Leon Vaz and Karan
Berry, has joined hands with Mumbai’s civic body, Brihanmumbai Municipal
Corporation (BMC) for project ‘Masks for Humanity’ where they have associated with
women artisans to manufacture and distribute 5000 non-surgical masks. These will
be distributed among safai karamcharis and other essential service workers. You
can help them by donating fabric or by volunteering to stitch the mask. For
more information, check out:
The contemporary fashion label Limerick by Abirr and Nanki
Papneja have introduced designer face masks, featuring multiple layers of
germ-resistant filters that provide protection from over 90% germs and
microbes. The label will be donating all of its sales proceeds to The Earth
Saviours Foundation, an NGO working with abandoned senior citizens in Delhi and
Gurugram. Additionally, the label also intends to donate 3,000 surgical masks
for healthcare officials of Kasturba Hospital in Mumbai.
Flipkart-owned fashion e-commerce brand Myntra, which had halted services due to the lockdown, has now started production and distribution of face masks. Partnering with outdoor gear and clothing brand Wildcraft, the duo is selling environment-friendly face masks.
Uma Prajapati, 50, an entrepreneur-cum-social activist, who built garment company Upasana Design Studio in Auroville in Tamil Nadu, has launched reusable healing masks made of organic cotton fabric as a part of its Therapeutic Clothing line. Made using 100% organic cotton, these masks are hand-woven, dyed with neem (Indian lilac) and herbs
Pallavi Utagi the founder of Superbottoms, a reusable diaper brand in India, has been manufacturing three-layer reusable cotton face masks. These masks also have a pocket where one can insert a non-woven fabric as a filler or as a fourth layer. She was contacted by a doctor in Kerala who had predicted the shortage of masks, to get the ball rolling on reusable cloth masks. Buy here.
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