One Saturday evening in April, Trevor George saw a photo, taken at the start of the pandemic, which showed a scene that he said absolutely could not last. “Each person wore a blue three-ply disposable mask,” says George. The image stunned him – and gave him an idea. “My wife and I looked at each other and we were like, ‘There’s no way this is happening in America. We knew that [Americans] were going to wear masks, but we didn’t think they would all wear the exact same thing because that’s who we are. We are very individualistic. We like to show our personality. So that evening he called a manufacturer who told him that they could make masks; later that week, George launched MaskClub with a sprawling inventory.
People bought Batman masks and Hello Kitty masks and tie-dye masks and masks made in collaboration with upholstery maker Scalamander. Most importantly, they bought masks with the American flag on them. They were buying so much that George’s maker was doing three consecutive eight-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even that wasn’t enough – people were buying so much that MaskClub stopped taking orders, in order to respond. on demand.
In just a few short months, the face mask has undergone decades of change – the same kind of transformation that has seen the t-shirt go from being part of the Navy uniform to widespread civilian adoption – in space. only a few months. First, the experts told us we don’t need it. Then the CDC recommended that everyone wear one. And now they have reached a third, more alluring stage: our masks represent our identities, political, stylistic or otherwise. The transformation of the face mask from medical essentials to style accessory is, like George’s, a deeply American story: a story about our robust individualism crafted by ourselves and the entrepreneurial creators who exist to transform. any situation, no matter how negative, into positive.
“As the rest of the economy plots the downward trajectory of a suicide bomber, the mask market has exploded. Since March, masks from streetwear brands that have been satisfying demand in Asia for years have suddenly jumped into the aftermarket. Lyst reported that the most wanted item of 2020 so far is an Off-White goggle. And everyone from J.Crew and Old Navy to conceptual high fashion designers like Collina Strada have started making their own versions of the cover. The issue of face masks quickly changed from: Should I have one and which one will protect me the best? at Which one will reflect me best?
Today, shy men can get a casual blue striped face mask, foodies might like one with the phrase “Insert pizza here”, javaheads can be thrilled by versions on the theme of coffee, and Strada’s knot designs will be the only ones worthy of fashion week when it resumes in a galaxy far, far away. Stylish takes on face masks started arriving in droves throughout April, as people texted me and sent me versions with Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bear due to my well-documented obsession. for the mascot. “First, [masks] were a safety thing, but I was thinking of a way to stand out because you started seeing so many all-white medical masks, ”says Ezra Wine, who sells Polo Bear masks made from a huge cover of sheets from the Polo brand he first bought to turn into hats and shirts.
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