After the Coronavirus, pandemic wearing facemasks has become the new global trend everyone sticks to on their day-to-day lives. With no end in sight to the pandemic, most countries have made it mandatory for people to wear masks when they go out.
Besides the surgical facemasks, a lot of people around the world are embracing the directive and being creative in making non-medical facemasks using whatever they have in hand. The fashion industry has also joined the innovative trend of designing a face mask.
The fashion brands that are known for their mixing of contemporary styles with traditional fabric are enhancing the process of manufacturing non-medical facemask with their unique designs to support themselves for the longevity of their business.
“When the usage of face mask became routine to my life, I wanted to use it as a fashion accessory that can go with my dressings,” says Lily Zewdie.
Mafi Mafi, the fashion brand led by Fashion designer Mahlet Afework has been one of the notable names in Ethiopia’s fashion industry since 2011. The fashion line is known for making unisex versatile hand-woven clothes by using traditional fabrics and techniques. To sustain its business and to help the society in the fight against COVID 19, Mafi Mafi has been producing facemasks since around March.
“Because of the pandemic we were forced to cease our production but in time we have started to develop facemask samples in line with the standards set by the government, and we began production on late March,” says Mahlet founder of Mafi Mafi, “With an intention to support our community we have donated one thousand facemasks from the first round of production, then different companies started buying our masks for their employees helping us to get back to business,” she adds.
Yefikir Design, another 10-year-old fashion brand founded by fashion designer Fikirte Addis is currently producing face masks on a larger scale with the support of the MasterCard foundation initiative. The clothes in Yefikir design are made of natural dye, hand crochet patterns, and hand embroidery fabrics with a modern touch and unique designs.
“Though the pandemic has affected our business for a while, we have immediately produced and donated masks for a vulnerable group of people in our community then we started producing for different companies,” Says Fikrte Addis.
Kunjina Tesfaye, a fashion designer and owner of the fashion line KUNJINA that was established three years ago is also producing branded facemasks after two months of the closure of her business due to the COVID 19. KUNJINA is known for its unique fabric manipulation, hand painting narration, and embroidery crafts on a readymade garment.
“Since we don’t know when the pandemic is going to be over, we initially produced face masks to sustain our business and to help our society using our skills,” Says Kunjina, “Our company prioritizes functionality and comfort for facemask products,” she adds.
For some stylish people, the rule that necessitates wearing face masks has been customized and turns the facemask usage to be one part of their fashion wardrobe.
The protective face coverings that have been advised to be worn outdoors have been quickly embraced by the fashion world.
“When the usage of facemask became routine to my life, I wanted to use it as a fashion accessory that can go with my dressings.” says Lily Zewdie, a usual customer of designed facemasks, “I choose the fabrics based on their comfort for my breathing. Naturally, it is a little difficult to breathe with a facemask on the face, so when I pick stylish facemask I usually give it a careful look,” She adds.
In the midst of a pandemic, fashion designers are producing facemasks that express their unique art in the fashion industry. “We were originally producing one type of mask that is made from 100% cotton but to add a bit excitement on the use and to manage our artisans and weavers, we started producing our branded facemasks,” says Mahlet.
Fikirte adds that the weavers in Yefikir Design were directly affected by the pandemic, producing designed face masks helped them to sustain their jobs. “Besides producing designed facemasks, with the imitative of fashion designers association, we developed transparent facemask samples prepared for people who have a hearing disability,” explains Fikirte.
Lily mostly prefers using designed facemasks when she has work-related and other kinds of events she has to attend. “When I wear facemasks that have attractive designs, I surprisingly found myself I have made a personal connection with the product although the impetus is health and safety,” notes Lily.
According to the WHO Interim guide on the usage of facemasks during COVID-19, fabric facemasks can alternatively be used with the medical facemasks. However, WHO suggests selecting the materials such as the tightness of the weave, fiber thread diameter, and layering sequences should be the first step taken to make these face masks in order to reduce their breathability barrier.