Face mask fashion: Canberrans embrace personal COVID-19 styles

Damien Larkins 9 July 2021 19
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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19 Responses to Face mask fashion: Canberrans embrace personal COVID-19 styles
Tina Newsome Tina Newsome 4:06 am 12 Jul 21

Yeah nobody is wearing them any more

Christopher Cuba Rabanal Christopher Cuba Rabanal 8:22 pm 11 Jul 21

It’s freezing out there, so any face covering is welcome!

Besides always look at the bright side of life 😉

Chris Newman Chris Newman 6:51 am 10 Jul 21

I think the purpose of the facemask is to limit spread of your breath which contained the virus not intended to Block the virus. And that’s not to ignore quite a lot of scientific research that has shown that wearing mask statistically does reduce the spread of the virus

Peter Higgins Peter Higgins 10:10 pm 09 Jul 21

So... totally useless and proud to display it.

From the TGA site:

    Angela Robbers Angela Robbers 2:46 am 10 Jul 21

    Peter Higgins marks worn in the community when social distancing is difficult, is what the TGA info says.

    I bet they are also excellent at catching the tears of individual sooks who find it difficult to act responsibly when out in the community.

    Louise Flood Louise Flood 5:18 am 10 Jul 21

    Peter Higgins no they are just covering themselves from legal repercussions. There’s plenty of evidence of good mask efficacy.

    Peter Higgins Peter Higgins 2:44 am 13 Jul 21

    Michelle Mills there are a few points worth noting. They absolutely do not reduce your chances of getting sick. At the height of the masking craze in the US the CDC reported 85% of new cases were wearing masks. Sneezing and coughing has nothing to do with the transmission of an aerosol virus, which the masks do not stop at all. Even according to Fauci, “masks are not effective at keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.”

    But, more to the point. Our own TGA will not regulate, nor endorse any cloth masks. In fact, there is not a single mask listed on their site that is compliant to stop Covid. Because there are no masks that stop Covid. And what is happening is that society at large has demanded of the police to fine and imprison other people for not wearing masks that are listed by the same government as being completely useless.

    Many of us have a problem with this.

    Peter Higgins Peter Higgins 7:44 am 13 Jul 21

    Michelle Mills it’s articles such as these that have people so confused. It discusses studies, with no links (try them).

    Droplets don’t matter when your breath rolls straight through (and around) the mask, carrying the virus.

    Masks do not stop bacterial transmission in surgical theatres. Bacteria is exponentially larger than a virus.

    The TGA does not support ANY masks in their incredibly specific medical definition of “stop transmission of disease”. I’ll posts some links.


    Peter Higgins Peter Higgins 7:45 am 13 Jul 21


    Peter Higgins Peter Higgins 7:46 am 13 Jul 21


Andrew Toal Andrew Toal 3:56 pm 09 Jul 21

Virus is 0.5 microns these are around 500 micron 🤷

    Louise Flood Louise Flood 5:16 am 10 Jul 21

    Andrew Toal but the virus is in droplets that are much larger. Do more research

    Andrew Toal Andrew Toal 7:09 am 10 Jul 21

    Louise Flood you may need to stop watching what the tv is telling you.. you may need to research how viruses are released and how this is atomised.. or don't... But your home made mask won't do squat to stop it

    Allan Johnson Allan Johnson 7:14 am 10 Jul 21

    Andrew Toal Does that virus in your picture have wings?

    Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 9:32 pm 11 Jul 21

    A mask is more like an atmosphere than a wall. It makes it harder for the virus to travel as far. It also reduces the amount others can be exposed to thus reducing the severity of the infection. It is absolutely better than nothing

Timmy Holness Timmy Holness 3:29 pm 09 Jul 21

Mine says I’m one of the faceless men

Annil Singh Annil Singh 1:25 pm 09 Jul 21

My face mask says it’s going in the bin at midnight

Shane Nayler Shane Nayler 1:18 pm 09 Jul 21

Mine says "Hey I don't want to get sick, or get others sick."

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 12:47 pm 09 Jul 21

It says I am fabulous

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