9 July 2021

Face mask fashion: Canberrans embrace personal COVID-19 styles

| Damien Larkins
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A woman in sunglasses wears a red Gucci face mask

Canberrans are choosing their own unique face masks during the health directive mandate. Photo: Damien Larkins.

The ACT’s mask mandate officially ends tonight but Canberrans have used the clampdown to express their flair with custom face masks of all colours and patterns.

More and more locals are tossing out the standard disposable blue medical masks in favour of bespoke, handmade designs – especially from the region’s craft makers.

Sporting teams (including the Canberra Raiders), classic designer prints, clothing brands names, floral images, superheroes – the list of unique masks is almost endless.

READ ALSO Mask mandate revoked, Barr canvasses workplace rollout

The crackdown on compliance saw local mask-makers inundated with orders for unique designs.

Canberra image consultant Kimberley Sara from The Style Side says people are embracing the fun side of the compulsory cloth coverings.

“I’ve seen some people colour coordinating, matching their mask to their outfit; I’ve seen lots of crazy prints,” she says.

“Then, obviously, lots of black. Canberra is a fairly muted town in terms of public servants and everything’s classic and pared back.”

Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr chose a classic Canberra black face mask. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

With so much of our personality communicated through our faces, it’s little wonder people are looking for alternatives when we’re mostly covered up.

“Fashion comes down to self-expression,” Kimberley said. “We all like to be who we are and make that known to the world. It’s just an extension of that.

“The more playful you go, it hints at your personality without you being able to do that with your face as much.”

Canberrans are certainly putting it out there – wearing their hearts, hobbies, interests and allegiances on their sleeves (metaphorically speaking).

Kimberley’s own wardrobe features a striking blue and white striped mask and one in pink, and she’s got more on order.

“I did have a really bland one, but I thought if we’re going to be doing this for a little while, I may as well get used to it,” she says.

“So I got a couple of different options.”

READ ALSO ‘Failed to prioritise aged care workers’: Health Minister takes aim at Commonwealth

International fashion houses are also cashing in on face masks.

Luxury brand Burberry offers masks in their distinctive brown, black and red plaid (or just black) for up to $190 a pop.

However, Kimberley says we haven’t quite gone down the mask-as-status symbol road here in the ACT just yet.

“Maybe in certain circles, [but] I wouldn’t say that’s the norm,” she says.

“Maybe if people have an event, that might be a way for them to still feel dressed up while having to wear a face mask on arrival.”

An expensive face mask on the Burberry website

For $190, you too could own an expensive black status symbol. Image: Burberry.

Although the mask mandate ends at 11:59 pm tonight (9 July), it’s likely not the last we’ll see of face masks.

If they do make a comeback, Kimberley predicts more and more people will adopt their own style.

“I think it’s going to be a really big trend. I don’t think it’s going anywhere as long as we have to use them,” she says.

“I think we might see more and more creative designs. Who knows how far it could go?”

As long as function remains the priority, whatever form it takes.

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