Masks have no doubt become an essential part of our daily lives – without one we are bare to the outside world and to the greedy virus we call Covid–19. Most of our 2020 summer holiday plans were cancelled last minute, due to the first lockdown in March. As if that was enough, not meeting friends and family has became the ‘new normal’ and a crisis to our daily lives, which still poses a threat to the rapid ‘spreading of the virus’, as stated by our confused government. Written By Amina Mughal
One notable feature of this pandemic is that the wearing of face masks has become a norm. But who says we can’t make a sustainable statement with them? As more people spent more money online shopping over the first lockdown, 69% of people openly admitted to buying fashionable masks to match their outfits – ASOS and Just Hype were the popular choices for affordability and a range of styles. It just shows that people were willing to spend more money on fashion masks to reuse them, instead of throwing them away with one use. Like most of us, sustainability and environmentally friendly materials were considered a winner by many buyers, as they felt saving our planet was the better way forward.
Designers from all over the world like Prada, Gucci, Dior, Louis Vuitton campaigned to spread awareness of ‘wearing a mask’ and even experimented to create the finest masks in my opinion – from being vibrant in colour to paying homage to the artisans of their countries. Indian-based designer Anita Dongre, whose ‘Unmask’ collection was inspired by highlighting the work of Indian artisans. The idea was to use whatever material they had lying around at home and to celebrate the ancient craft of Pichhwai – which is taking inspiration from devotional images from Hindu paintings.
Dongre hopes that post this global crisis, our fashion choices become more sustainable and we choose to be more mindful of the impact. “We need to bring about a change in how we live personally and with the environment,” Anita says. She also adds that “we must use this crisis to understand that we need to respect and live harmoniously with Mother Nature.” Anita’s collection sent buyers hungry to see her work of art on the masks, where she took inspiration from the backdrop of a temple in Rajasthan, a northern state in India. The mask depicts a leaf and a bird, hand-painted in green ink, and is made with organic cotton. Joining hands with Anita, ace designer Masaba Gupta introduced her own
initiative ‘Maskaba’, which saw quirky prints and fabrics that were sourced from one of her production vendors. All profits went to GiveIndia and NGO’s throughout India.
Another London-based designer Isabel Manns, focused on sustainably made clothing for her masks as well. The masks were made locally in the UK and what’s more interesting is that all the profits earned went to the NHS. At just £7, Simple Folk’s sustainable face masks were another choice for sustainability – made with 100% organic cotton and OEKO TEX certified dyes, meant every mask worn was free from harmful chemicals. If you thought that was impressive you’ll love to know that for every mask sold they donated one mask to a woman and child in need.
More people are opting for sustainable masks for the long run, as they benefit our local communities such as our healthcare providers, saves to stop damage caused by wastage by reusing materials and helps garner profits for low income artisans on a global level.