Face masks worn for the safety of ourselves and those around us have become a fashion trend of 2020, with many people styling their outfits to match the pattern or colour of their face masks. They are now, along with our house keys, phones and hand sanitiser, one of the most essential items we reach for when going out. Not only are face masks a piece of protective equipment used in the fight against the spread of coronavirus but they are also this year’s staple accessory. Mandatory masks on public transport, in supermarkets and all shops and enclosed spaces, have led many luxury and high street brands, as well as individuals at home, to start producing their own to sell in stores or online.

There is now a wide variety of masks available to the public and more people are opting for the environmentally friendly option of reusable face masks instead of disposable ones that are required for use in hospitals. Many people have bought masks through Etsy, a website that sells handmade items. Through Etsy, both independent sellers can make an income, as well as some shops that have started making masks due to a loss in sales, so some small businesses that may have faced financial problems since the UK’s lockdown measures are now being supported.

One business that has started making eco-friendly face masks and has been successfully selling them on a daily basis is Little Rose Design Millinery, a bespoke bridal and occasion headwear store based in Louth, Ireland.

The proprietor of the online store and a milliner by trade, Sinead Gormley, said: “As the large gathering aspect of weddings was put to a stop, this saw a lot of my clients postponing their bespoke headwear orders. I had clients asking me regularly if I made face masks and after listening to them I decided to make exactly what they needed and wanted. They were still my fabulous loyal clients but they now needed a different product from me, so I made friends with my sewing machine and got going!”

Now making over 30 designs of the product, Gormley has found that men tend to purchase plain, darker coloured masks while the most popular style bought by women are classic floral or polka dot prints.

She added: “Any clothing we wear on our bodies ends up becoming a style statement. At first we were all happy just to have a face covering. Now we are looking for great patterns, shapes and colours, and emerging are trends of bespoke one-offs for those occasions that are a bit more special than the weekly shop.”

Gormley is currently working on a collection of masks made of luxury fabrics including silk, lace and velvet for special occasions that may require people to wear one.

Popular online stores such as ASOS and Boohoo are also selling packs of reusable face masks, and ASOS in particular are donating £1 to Oxfam’s Coronavirus Emergency Response Appeal with every sale of the product.

Some face masks have also been designed specifically for activities such as sports. The premium brand Under Armour can provide purchasers with a triple layered mask suitable for use when taking part in sports where you are required to wear a mask.

In these uncertain times face masks have become a part of everyday life and will be for the foreseeable future. This may not be to everyone’s liking but it is a necessary precaution to reduce the spread of coronavirus in society.

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