YR CEO Tim Williams explores the evolution of face masks and how they are more than just functional and have now become a must-have fashion accessory.
Before the global pandemic face masks were alien to many of us in the west – new territory. It was something we associated with surgeons and going to the dentist, not something we would consider a wardrobe staple. But when coronavirus hit this became a completely different story. Mask-wearing was rapidly adopted, especially when studies came out proving they offered some protection from COVID. Also, with the new laws in place requiring members of the public to wear face coverings in shops and public transport - it has become integral to our everyday lives.
More than a mask
Face masks core function was and still is to protect us and those around us, but it’s now become way more than that. As the weeks have gone by the demand for more fashionable masks has risen and we have seen the evolution from surgical blue to an array of new stylish options popping up from high-street retailers to independent and designer brands. If we have to wear them, we might as well make it fashion - right?
Brands like YR Masks have even made it possible to design your own reusable face mask which can be a great way to match with outfits and show a bit of personality. You can choose from a variety of colours, quirky stickers and patterns as well as play around with layout options - creating fun unique combinations. There is something for everyone - whether you want to stand out from the crowd, or you want to keep it simple. The designs are printed on masks made from a double-layer fabric, with the inner layer being 100% breathable cotton and the outer layer is 'performance fabric with superior wicking' (polyester).
More than just pretty
As funky as some masks look it’s still important to make sure they meet WHO guidelines. The style shouldn’t take precedence over substance - especially as there are affordable options out there that are both beautiful, comfortable and functional. Also, it’s important to get something practical and breathable too – it’s good if the mask has the option for adding in replaceable filters for further protection. You want something that you won’t have to keep adjusting and touching as it is key you keep your hands away from your face. Remember it’s important to know how to put on your mask properly and to wash your hands before putting it on. It might sound obvious but get something that’s the right size and fits properly covering both your mouth and nose.
More than single use
Conservationists around the world are concerned over the single -use masks being used and then thrown away every single day with many already being found in our seabed’s and washed up on our beaches. One study estimates that in the UK alone, if every person used a single-use face mask a day for a year, it would create an additional 66,000 tonnes of contaminated waste and 57,000 tonnes of plastic packaging.
It is clear opting for a reusable mask is definitely more environmentally friendly than one-time-use masks. Some masks can be washed over 100 times and still be as good as brand new. This means that within a period of 100 days or more you could potentially prevent throwing away 99% fewer masks if you swap to something washable rather than disposable for daily use. Choosing a customised option can also help with sustainability. Personalisation in itself often prevents clothing from ending up in landfill as we are less likely to throw it away due to personal attachment and the piece being unique. Also, some stores like YR offer an on-demand supply chain meaning all the clothing they make is only printed or embroidered when the customer orders them. This reduces waste and overproduction tackling an industry problem head on.
More than a Trend
Masks are likely more than a fad and could even be used to help reduce seasonal viruses too such as the Flu. Tim Williams, company co-founder of YR believes face coverings are here for the long run, "Covid 19 has been an unexpected challenge for the retail industry and we are one of many businesses affected. But we have seen a 200% increase in enquiries for the YR platform from fashion and accessory brands and I predict the pandemic will not only drive demand for face coverings now, but it will be the must-have fashion accessory of the future".
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