Face Masks Might Be The Next Big Thing in Fashion

Nicole Healey of Rockford, an out of work hairstylist and owner of the sewing company Green Love, sews a face mask at GEM: Gather, Engage, Make store on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Rockford, Ill. Associated Press.

By Camille Rasor | Reporter

Face masks are becoming a staple when going outside the home, making them not just a piece of personal protective equipment but also an accessory.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, people who have the equipment and skills necessary to sew face masks at home have stepped up to the challenge.

Andie Day, Baylor professor in the Family and Consumer Sciences department and founder of Mary Claret, an Austin-based small batch clothing business, started sewing masks after the need for them became apparent.

“I felt very helpless and just being able to do something tangible made me feel like I was at least trying to do something helpful,” Day said, explaining why she decided to produce masks.

However, for anyone looking to buy masks, they are often hard to come by, especially from popular retailers. Day said she thinks the reasoning for this is that typical mass-production companies have had a harder time getting through the logistics of switching from the products they typically produce to large-scale mask production.

Day, however, has been able to make that switch quite easily, already having produced hundreds of masks for the general public and healthcare workers who might not have consistent access to medical-grade personal protection equipment.

“I have an industrial sewing machine. I have a cutting table. I have an electric cutting knife, so I have the ability to produce more than your average home sewer,” Day said.

However, it is not just small business owners like Day that have started producing masks for those in need. Some high-end designers have also switched over their production lines to make masks for medical professionals.

One of these designers is Christian Siriano, a designer who has made looks for celebrities such as Janelle Monae, Billy Porter and Taylor Swift. Siriano has already produced over 8,000 masks with the help of his sewing team.

“…[W]e did 2,000 more masks in 2 days,” Siriano wrote in an Instagram post published a week ago. “We are going to keep going as long as we can.”

It is likely that this pandemic is going to have permanent effects on the way that Americans go about their daily lives, and face masks may become a typical feature of American street style.

Day said she expects that Americans may start to see masks as a common article of clothing once the virus outbreak subsides.

“Considering other cultures, Asia specifically, people have worn masks for a long time,” Day said. “It was like publicly, totally acceptable, versus here, people, like if you saw them at the airport wearing a mask, you’d kind of give a weird look, right? So, I think that’s going to completely shift.”