Stylish face masks could see a surge in demand as the government updates its official coronavirus guidance
With the government now urging people to wear face coverings in shops and crowded places, sales of fashionable masks are expected to rise.
Some fashion designers have already been using their expertise to hand-make masks for key workers. Leading TV costume maker Kate Ireland has been crafting 160 masks a week during the lockdown using her home sewing machine. Her reusable face masks are made from close-weave cotton and have wire across the nose. For added protection, they are also equipped with a filter made from a proprietary vacuum cleaner bag.
Ireland expects demand for face masks to rise across the UK and believes some wearers will seek more stylish designs. “I imagine that people might start to see masks as a fashion accessory after a while,” she says.
Elsewhere, indie fashion brands have been making non-medical face masks and donating the proceeds to NHS charities. This includes the founders of new sustainable swimwear brand Tucca Swim, who have been making masks at home using left over fabric from their SS20 collection.
In the US, demand for designer face masks surged after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance. Some American brands and retailers are now selling flamboyant masks featuring colourful prints, with prices currently ranging from $10 to $100. Of course, the popularity of face masks in Asian countries means there’s nothing new about high fashion versions. However, following the coronavirus crisis, they could become a genuine style accessory in the UK too.
Industry insiders believe it’s only a matter of time before we see non-medical masks on the shelves of H&M and Zara. Both retail giants have been using their factories to make medical masks for frontline workers – making it straightforward to tweak their designs for consumers.
Designer face masks
So, should you source face coverings to sell in your boutique? It’s clear that the government’s new advice certainly does present an opportunity for fashion retailers.
Some fashion indies are already selling face masks online. Meanwhile others plan to introduce them when physical stores can re-open.
Major brands have already begun manufacturing and producing their own ranges to wholesale. Canadian womenswear brand Frank Lyman Design is producing non-medical masks, which are available on its website. The fashion-led range offers several options for consumers from plain colours to florals and animal prints. The brand is donating all profits from the online sales of its masks to global charities. Stockists can contact their local sales representative directly to place an order.
Likewise, Croatian label XD Xenia Designs is also selling trend-led non-medical face masks. There are several versions to choose from in a variety of fabrics. Buyers can also opt for packs of three cotton masks that can be machine washed.
We expect many more options to enter the market soon as demand rises from UK consumers.