Let’s skip the platitudes about “unprecedented times” and get straight to the point: whether we like it or not, face masks are becoming an essential accessory. In New York City, for example, we actually don’t even have much choice in the matter — as Governor Cuomo has now given businesses the right to deny service to customers without face coverings.
It’s no surprise that face mask sales have surged since March. According to a market study from Globenewswire.com, “The worldwide face mask market size is expected to record a remuneration of $21,210 million by the end of 2026. The unending use of the product in the medical sector has spurred the industry demand globally. In 2020, the face mask industry size was recorded at $4581.9 million.”
Of course, for economic purposes, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with picking up a basic blue medical mask from the drug store. But if you want to level up your style game, there’s plenty of outlets offering more sophisticated sartorial choices for the more discerning post-apocalyptic survivors.
In fact, GQ notes that the face mask resale industry is currently booming, meaning that the most stylish protective gear is in pretty high demand. Prices are notably steeper on products from designer brands like Bape and Off White, who were making “ornamental” masks before the COVID plague descended upon us: “Daily search volume for face masks has doubled, with a particular spike [on second-hand streetwear seller, Grailed.com] on March 12, the day the NBA suspended its season and Tom Hanks announced he had tested positive for the virus,” writes fashion critic Samuel Hine, who similarly notes that the demand for designer face masks had been widespread in Asia long before the current crisis. Meanwhile, indie designers are creating DIY reproduction of high-end luxury goods with their own skills and sewing machines.
As the present takes on the motifs of a cyberpunk dystopia, the face mask is the perfect outfit accouterment for this epoch. Aside from the longstanding cultural trope of purposefully concealed identity and its relation to fighting injustice (as realized through the ubiquity of superheroes in contemporary culture), research has shown that cleverly designed masks can actually undermine government attempts at panoptic surveillance. That means you can avoid both detection and catching the disease while you’re out demonstrating against oppressive authority! On the other hand, will designer masks become the newest symbol of high-status in this hyper-capitalist world? And how will the changing of seasons impact the designs?
Now, we’re here to help you out with a rundown of the most stylish face masks we could find. Check out our list, below!