POLL | Should Covid-19 face masks be treated like fashion accessories?

08 July 2020 - 12:04 By Sahil Harilal
One of the high-end luxury face masks from local designer Rich Mnisi's Alkebulan collection.
One of the high-end luxury face masks from local designer Rich Mnisi's Alkebulan collection.
Image: Supplied

From denim jeans to sportswear, many of the everyday fashion essentials we take for granted today started out as fit-for-purpose utilitarian items. So why should the face masks we wear to safeguard ourselves against the coronavirus be any different?

On the other hand, some argue that turning personal protective equipment into a fashion statement is trivialising the pandemic. What are your thoughts? Vote in the poll below.

Here’s what some of our fashion team members have to say on the matter:

Sahil Harilal, junior fashion editor: “Design plays a part in every aspect of our lives, from our phones and pillows to toothbrushes. Why should it be absent now when we are combating a global pandemic?

“I am so proud of our local fashion industry working together for the common good, seeing designers halt production of their new ranges to produce medical scrubs and masks.

“The bottom line is that Covid-19 isn’t a 2020 problem, it won’t magically disappear on 31 Dec at 12.01am. Social distancing and mask wearing will become part of our new normal and will be around for a long time, so if masks in different colours and patterns encourage more wearers, I say absolutely.”

Aspasia Karras, publisher of Sunday Times Lifestyle: “Just because something has a utilitarian purpose does not mean that aesthetics are somehow less important. Great design does both — form and function — so, yes I believe masks should be beautiful and useful and, above all, safe.

“As the subtleties of human interaction change and gestures once thought so commonplace — a smile, a handshake or hug — become taboo, the fashion face mask represents the sides of ourselves we are unable to show, something that represents our personality and self-expression. A necessity filled with hope and community.”

Thango Ntwasa, features writer: “There’s no need to downplay your flair for fashion because of the morbid times we are living in. Especially when you can play your part in supporting different local designers [who are now making face masks]. Keep yourself updated with how fabrics play a role in mitigating your chances of getting the virus and mask up.”