Fashion brands, who in response to the pandemic, have created masks for PPE purposes are seeing a … [+]
As the western world still grapples with its first major viral incident in recent history, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that masks are going to be part of the new normal moving forward. Already a part of the everyday in Asia where the population has experience with viral outbreaks; like in Asia, masks will become another thing to grab on the way out the door in western nations along with a wallet, phone and keys.
For designers and brands who have released masks during the quarantine, creating them was a way to use what they had on hand—fabric and production capabilities—to support what was happening in the world. “The project came from a desire to use our resources to contribute to the nationwide fight against the pandemic and specifically to support the healthcare workers who so desperately needed PPE,” says Rebecca Hessel Cohen, founder of the brand LoveShackFancy.
The consumer demand which followed was so unexpected that designers have found themselves unable keep up with production, while the revenue stream they brought with them was a welcome surprise amidst a fashion industry that is collapsing under the crisis.
“Once we realized how much people loved the masks, we decided to make them available on our website for purchase and donation. We sold out in less than 3 minutes and we currently have a waitlist for the new masks,” Cohen adds.
Hanover Savas, COO and partner in The Mighty Company, an LA-based brand specializing in luxury leather outerwear, shares an experience similar to Cohen’s. “When we first got the idea, we didn’t realize how high the demand would be. We released them onto our site thinking we had produced enough to last us several weeks. Within the first 30 hours of putting them on the site, they completely sold out,” she says.
“When we decided to make ours, I wanted to design ones that helped ease the shock of the newfound … [+]
The Mighty Company
And they are not the only ones.
“We were absolutely flummoxed by the speed at which the masks sold out,” says Jessica Joffe, co-founder of the inclusively-sized women’s shirt brand, Même Chose. “It took 30 minutes for the first batch to sell out, and 15 minutes for the next.”
The economic benefit this has brought to brands has helped weather the very uncertain storm that has been this pandemic, providing some with uninterrupted cash flow. “We’ve sustained a revenue in our business that has been the same as a normal month of direct-to-consumer and wholesale combined,” says Savas.
And as masks become the new essential accessory, consumers are shopping for them in the same way they would shop for any other accessory, as an expression of themselves or because a certain brand has certain benefits, causing brands to respond by creating masks that speak to consumer personalities or needs.
“People love to express themselves through fashion. Why should we take that expression out of something more important than anything else we are wearing right now?” says Jessie Willner, founder of The Mighty Company. “We figured since you have to wear a mask instead of a smile, it might as well look like the closest thing.”
This demand is giving brands the opportunity to extend their current offerings and even grow their consumer base. For Joffe, masks are Même Chose’s first unisex product, resulting in the brand experiencing a spike in male customers. “We suddenly have men shopping our site, which is a thrill,” says Joffe.
Savas and Willner are also creating men’s masks, as well as ones for children because they quickly realized masks are not a one-size-fits all type of product, and for their consumer, who is purchasing for their whole family at once, the convenience of one-stop shopping is something they demand. “If someone wants this product, they are expecting to use it right away,” says Willner. “We’ve tried to meet that demand and listen more than ever before, so we developed both kids and unisex masks.”
Add to this the attainable price points of these designer masks, allowing new consumers to buy into the brand, plus the social commerce aspect—each of these brands are either donating masks or a part of sales to various organizations—and a new consumer base is born.
“It’s a much lower price point than everything else we carry, an easy essential item you can justify spending $20 dollars on, particularly when we give 30% of each sale to the fight against Covid,” says Joffe.
For luxury Italian intimate apparel brand, Cosabella, they are seizing the opportunity to create … [+]
Luxury Italian intimate apparel brand, Cosabella, is taking it one step further. They are betting that masks are here to stay and will be releasing various styles for different occasions that, once upon a time, we would never have fathomed would require a mask.
“People will want masks for different reasons, so we are creating date masks, for when you want to look sexy, and in two weeks we are launching bridal masks,” says Guido Campello, Chief Creative Officer of Cosabella. “Another one is maternity, because you want family there in the hospital, and how do you do that safely?”
Campello’s wife. Dr. Sapna Palep, is the founder at Spring Street Dermatology in New York City and is one of the few dermatology offices that have remained open during the crisis. Cosabella’s mask-making began with supplying her office with attractive, comfortable masks that could be worn all day by her staff. As the quarantine went on, Palep began to see increased skin issues with her clients due mask-wearing including acne on patients that never had any, skin irritation, ingrown hairs, and eczema flare-ups, issues which are informing the sorts of masks Cosabella will create in the future.
“How do you wear these masks and keep your face healthy? Makeup will cause irritation, sweat will cause clogged pores, and having detergent so close to your face can be irritating,” says Campello.
While masks have been an unexpected stream of revenue during a very challenging time, the intention of solidarity at the core of brands creating them remains the same.
“It is so important to me that we continue to support our community throughout the pandemic,” says Savas. “The hope that our masks could bring a smile to someone’s face at this difficult time is so inspiring and has encouraged us to keep creating and donating as many masks as we can.”