by Sarah Morrison
The optics of the face mask are changing. Non-medical grade masks, once largely deemed a consideration for self-wear, are now a mainstay, with governments across the U.S. increasingly mandating their use in response to COVID-19.
And rightfully so. The use of a face mask has emerged as the unspoken message of respect for the individual, just as much as it is, and historically has been, the image of protection.
The rising demand of cloth face masks from the general public is a seismic shift the fashion world is weathering with grace. Companies of all scale have pivoted their businesses, transforming supply chains to offer masks of varying order sizes for various needs.
And smaller designers, often limited in resources and staff, are proving themselves to be just as capable of meeting this critical need. Demonstrating agility and creativity, these independently-minded brands are reinvigorating the image of the face mask with creations that are both on-brand and serving the much-needed purpose of protection. Here, a few of fashion’s shining independent designers stepping up to help protect the public in exceptional style.
Note: The following masks have not been cleared by FDA for use in any surgical setting or where significant exposure to liquid, bodily, or other hazardous fluids may be expected; for use in a clinical setting where the infection risk level through inhalation exposure is high; for infection prevention or reduction; or for use in the presence of a high intensity heat source or flammable gas.
1. Lele Sadoughi ($14 Each in a Set of 3)
New York-based designer, Lele Sadoughi, is reimagining her signature, whimsical style in her latest offering of non-medical face masks, available for adults and children alike. Crafted in soft cotton, these masks are machine-washable and feature hand-embellishment like pearls and floral embroidery. Includes adjustable elastic ear straps and an opening for a filter pocket (filter not included).
2. Saturdays NYC ($10 Each in a Pack of Two)
For the self-proclaimed minimalist, you can’t beat the style of Saturdays NYC. The international lifestyle brand has recently launched a 2-pack of fabric face masks made of 100% jersey cotton with the brand’s logo discreetly embroidered for minimalist appeal. With each purchase, the brand will donate 100% of proceeds to New Yorkers in need by way of Food Bank for New York City.
3. Rachel Craven ($24 Each)
Boasting high-quality craftsmanship and sustainable fabrication, Los-Angeles based designer, Rachel Craven has expanded her American-made brand to include non-medical face masks—made of European linen, no less. Naturally antibacterial and 30% stronger than cotton-made counterparts, each mask features a pocket for a replaceable filter and heavy-duty cord elastic ear loops. What’s more, for each mask purchased, RC will donate one mask to 1736 Family Crisis Center, a nonprofit providing lifesaving support to victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and families faced with homelessness.
4. Tokki Gifting ($16 Each in a Pack of 2)
Tokki, a sustainable gift-wrap company founded by Jane Park of Julep Beauty, has redirected 100% of its cloth resources to produce face masks for the general public. Tokki has used their supply of “quilter’s cotton,” a tight-weave, 100% cotton fabrication, to create inspired designs imitating forms in nature. For every mask purchased, Tokki will donate one mask to a frontline worker in need. All masks feature an elastic trim for ear loops and an interior pocket for an optional disposable filter. Machine-washable.
5. Grayson ($9 Each in a Pack of 4)
Grayson, the brainchild of Frank & Eileen founder, Audrey McLoghlin, is offering non-medical grade masks made of 100% breathable cotton—the same soft material found in the brand’s signature shirting collection. Grayson has announced a fundraiser for One Fair Wage, a nonprofit organization providing cash assistance for service workers in financial crisis due to COVID-19. Through sales of their masks, Grayson hopes to donate $25,000 in proceeds to support One Fair Wage directly. All masks feature Italian white cotton lining on the interior and a machine-washable construction.
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