Whoever would have thought that wearing a face mask would explode into a fashion statement? These days, they are the new True Fashionista must-have accessory, never mind possible lifeline. No surprise, designers have stepped up to the task of making the face mask the IT accessory. One in particular had the vision back in February. Marine Serre, turned heads at Paris fashion week with designs featuring matching face masks. It wasn’t the first time, either. The trend she was riding started with her fall line also featuring face coverings. At that point, she referred to them as “anti-pollution” masks. Little did anyone know…

As The Guardian reports, Prada is one of the latest big-name fashion brands to refocus its production lines on the need for face masks, having churned out over 100,000 masks already.  Gucci has said it will make more than a million masks, with Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga following suit, focusing on the need overseas. But what about us here in the good ol’ U.S. of A? Fashion writer and host of the costume design podcast Fishnet Flix Marie Lodi concurs that we can make a statement using masks like the ones her company is producing. “Our masks are really flamboyant and have hot pink tie-dye and Guy Fieri flames on them,” she says.

While major brands such as Christian Siriano, Zara, H&M and Prada are using their factories to produce necessities solely for medical staff, smaller companies have launched one-for-one initiatives where for each mask sold, they will donate another to essential workers. Once the CDC released its new guidelines urging the general population to wear a mask outside of the home, Brooklyn-based Naomi Mishkin, owner of Naomi Nomi, says she received 5,000 orders for her cotton masks, ensuring that the same number will go to first responders as well. In a positive spin on an economy looking at staggering unemployment numbers, she has been able to re-open her factory and get her team back to work.

Matrushka’s $10 cotton masks, reports Rachel Sanoff for The Guardian, are constructed out of fabric scraps from its couture studio, featuring True Fashionista colorful creations with aliens and cartoon cats front and center. “If having a cool non-medical grade mask with cats or unicorns or sharks on it makes things less scary for all of us, I’m happy,” says Laura Howe, Matrushka owner and designer. “I don’t like the idea of us all looking the same: sad, scared, behind the same kind of mask.”

WWD reports that Vera Bradley has ramped up production of True Fashionista cotton masks in their Fort Wayne, Indiana-based facility. Plans are in place to produce about 15,000 each week and increase runs from there, rallied chief executive officer Robert Wallstrom. “What we’re good at as a country is how to solve problems…but the ingenuity of individuals on the side can add to it. I don’t think it’s an either/or but how do we do both?”

This time of need also presents an opportunity for indie designers to get a foothold in the industry to build their identity while also helping out for the greater good. Such is the case in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, where a burgeoning True Fashionista underground designer collective is producing an array of hip cloth face masks by up and coming area designers like Joynoelle, Tessa Louise and former Project Runway contestant Christopher Straub. As Madeline Nachbar shares via Mpsmag, many of these designers feature eco-friendly, sustainable fabrics in their lines, and are giving back to the local community with a “buy one/we donate one to the local hospital” philosophy.

Is this trend here to stay once the curve is flattened?

In pollution-heavy east Asia, masks have already cemented their spot in fashion, as well as health and social responsibility. We speculate the trend could carry over here if not globally.

Says fashion writer Gabriela Herstik, “We hold on to memories through the clothing we wear. The collective trauma of Covid-19 will be ingrained, and I think a lot of us are going to keep wearing our masks when this is over, like a safety blanket.”

Head on over to True Fashionista online to find the perfect outfit and accessories to complement your groovy fashion face mask.  And keep it safe, y’all.




Jennifer Johnson