Just a few short months ago, the words ‘fashion’ and ‘face masks’ seemed unlikely to ever appear in the same sentence. And yet, since the global coronavirus outbreak and the fact that is is now mandatory to wear face coverings in shops in the UK, as well as on public transport and in Ubers, with police able to issue £100 fines for those who don’t comply, demand for them is now at an all-time high. But that doesn’t mean you have to resort to wearing disposable, single-use masks, which have a devastating impact on the environment – top fashion designers, artists and emerging London-based creators, who need our support more than ever, are now making their own infinitely more stylish, reusable versions of the protective coverings, all while raising money to give back to vital charities.
It’s no surprise that the fashion and art worlds have started pivoting their businesses in this new direction. According to global fashion search platform Lyst’s latest quarterly report, which analyses the behaviour of nine million shoppers each month, there has been a 496 per cent surge in searches for face masks in the last quarter alone. In response, several designers have started creating their own lines, with some of them becoming overnight sell-out sensations. And while it’s worth noting these are purely fashion masks and do not guarantee protection against contracting Covid-19, they certainly offer a chic way to feel safer when social distancing isn’t possible. We’ve rounded up the most fashion-forward face masks on the market right now, all of which are giving back to charity.
The Vampire’s Wife face mask, £35
When the cult label founded by Susie Cave released their first line of highly covetable face masks in May, they sold 700 in six minutes. Their latest batch of ultra-feminine silk face coverings, printed with flowers and edged with ruffles, was no different. In fact, the masks are in such high demand that the brand has now begun to release secret drops to its newsletter subscribers. For each sale they donate a portion of the proceeds to a range of charities chosen by their customers, from Women’s Aid to The Mary Frances Trust, which supports mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Alex Eagle Studio face mask, £30
Trailblazing curator and creative director Alex Eagle is one of our favourite tastemakers in London, thanks to her impeccable wardrobe and her eponymous shop-meets-gallery in Soho, which sells a highly covetable blend of art, interiors and fashion. Her latest project is a range of pleated silk face masks, which are handmade in the capital and come in a chic range of colours, from mint green to berry red. For every purchase they will be donating £2.50 to the charity Women for Women International, which helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives.
Siobhan Molloy face mask, £39
London-based slow fashion designer Siobhan Molloy creates striking contemporary pieces featuring bold prints and sculptural elements – both of which can be seen in her range of face masks, which use off-cuts from her core collections to create eye-catching face coverings. Made from three layers of soft cotton poplin, each one fastens with smart self-tie bows at the side and comes with the option to insert an additional filter. For every purchase, 10% of the proceeds will go to support local communities impacted by the pandemic.
Contemporary Art Society face mask, £35
The Contemporary Art Society has partnered with Frieze London on a series of limited-edition masks designed by four of the UK’s leading artists: David Shrigley, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Linder and Eddie Peake. The arresting designs are being sold to raise money for the newly launched CAS Rapid Response Fund, a charity that supports emerging artists and those most affected by the current gallery closures.
Erdem face mask, £45
Famous for his whimsical floral prints, designer Erdem Moralioglu has crafted a limited edition mask from leftover fabrics specially designed for his Pre Fall 2020 collection. Made with printed Italian cotton, the reusable mask comes with a removable filter and 100% of the profits on sales will be donated to the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal charity.
The British Fashion Council’s ‘Great British Designer face coverings', £15 for three
The British Fashion Council has announced their own initiative for those looking for a more fashion-forward option, releasing a range of sustainable face masks created by some of Britain’s leading designers: Halpern, Julien Macdonald, Liam Hodges, Mulberry, Rixo and Raeburn. The aim of the masks is to raise £1 million to be split between three different charities: NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal, BFC Foundation Fashion Fund and the Wings of Hope Children’s Charity, which runs educational programmes across the UK, India and Malawi.
Ai Weiwei face mask, $50
World-renowned artist Ai Weiwei has had 20 of his most famous images – from sunflower seeds to mythical beasts – silk-screened by hand in his studio in Berlin onto 10,000 cloth masks. Each one is being sold for $50 each on eBay (or $300 for a set of four), with the proceeds going to various coronavirus humanitarian efforts led by Human Rights Watch, Refugees International and Médecins Sans Frontières.
Collina Strada face mask, $100
New York-based designer Collina Strada has created one of the most visually striking masks on the market, made out of multi-coloured printed fabrics and fastened with bows. Each one is made with leftover materials from previous collections, so no two masks are exactly the same, and for every one purchased the brand will donate five masks to healthcare workers in New York City.
Jessica Russell Flint face mask, £22
Famous for her brightly coloured, beautifully illustrated silk eye masks, British designer Jessica Russell Flint has now turned her hand to eye-catching face masks, using upcycled off-cuts of her leftover materials. Made from 100% silk, they won’t irritate the skin, unlike many of the disposable masks available, and feature removable filters and adjustable elastic side straps for the perfect fit. All of the profits from each sale will go to the charity Refuge, who support women and children trying to escape domestic abuse.
Colville x Fashion Illustration Gallery face masks, from £100
Colville, the sustainable fashion brand founded by ex-British Vogue Fashion Director Lucinda Chambers and former Marni designers Kristen Forss and Molly Molloy, has teamed up with the Fashion Illustration Gallery on a series of handmade calico masks featuring designs by some of the world’s leading illustrators and contemporary artists, including David Downton, Luke Edward Hall, Daisy de Villeneuve and Gavin Turk. Each design will be auctioned off to raise funds for Hope and Homes for Children charity, with the auction running until Sunday 21 June and bids starting at £100.
Pearl Lowe face mask, from £25
Using leftover fabrics from some of Pearl Lowe’s most popular designs, including the pretty floral pattern from her Marilyn dress and the striking Liberty Print fabric from her Clara dress, these double lined masks are hand made in Somerset by local seamstresses and modelled by Pearl’s daughter, Daisy Lowe. Printed on the finest viscose or crepe de chine silk, £5 from each purchase will be donated to NHS Charities Together.
Florence Bridge face mask, £12
This London-based, slow fashion brand, which specialises in digitally printed silks, patchwork leather and shearling womenswear pieces and accessories, has released a collection of unisex cotton and duchess satin face masks. Chic and elegantly simple, they come in a variety of colours, from forest green and sky blue to eye-catching hot pink, and 25% of the profits from each sale goes to the Fuel Our Frontline charity, which delivers essential groceries to hospital workers around the UK.
Brora Liberty print face mask, £19
When leading British knitwear brand Brora realised one of their factories in Portugal was helping to make PPE for staff on the frontline, they decided to work with them to create a range of pretty cotton face masks using vintage Liberty prints. Covered in cheerful multi-coloured spring flowers, £10 from every mask goes towards supporting NHS Charities Together.
Anthropologie face mask, £18 for three
Alongside their usual contempory interiors pieces and boho summer dresses, you can now pick up a set of patterned reusable face masks next time you shop at Anthropologie. Featuring three different designs – two ditzy florals and a leopard print – the masks are made from the softest cotton and feature a simple, comfortable fit designed for everyday use and daily washing or disinfecting. All of the profits from the masks will be donated to NHS Charities Together.
Chloe Croft face mask, £14.95
Best known for her bold animal portraits, which adorn everything from limited edition prints to cushions and make-up bags, the London-based designer has now turned her hand to face masks. Featuring her signature pink flamingo alongside a vibrant tiger print, each mask is made with three layers, with a silk/satin front, flannel middle layer and cotton on the back. For every sale the designer will donate £1.50 to NHS Charities Together.