Though it compelled garment manufacturers across India to shut their factories, the COVID-19 pandemic also offered them a life vest in the form of cotton masks. Masks have become a necessary tool of survival in these catastrophic times, many apparel brands, from luxury to affordable; have diverted their production to creating these beautiful masks.
While ethnicwear brands like Fabindia and Tjori are focusing on masks with block prints and weaves women’s wear brand Fablestreet has incorporated subtle prints and colors in its masks. Designer brands like Anita Dongre, Nitya Bajaj, Santosh and Sivan are adding their individual touch to masks.
A mix of business and social welfare
Emerging almost as a form of self-expression, masks have now become a crossover between a business opportunity and using one’s brand equity for social good. Countless Indian brands have forayed into the mask-making domain over the last few months. Designer Masaba Gupta started making cotton masks in April with the twin aim of keeping her business going and also donating these to people in need. Today, her brand sells masks priced Rs 250 onwards. Some of these masks also have a gold foil and cost Rs 750 per mask.
Designer Payal Singhal too started her mask making journey with limited editions, for a niche audience primarily to spread awareness on social media. These masks were part of a campaign where Bollywood celebrities and influencers shared photos of themselves wearing Singhal’s masks. Her brand Fablestreet initially made masks from old scraps of clothes. It is now creates different variants of these masks sold in a pack of 10.
Factors driving the popularity of cotton masks in India
One of the main reasons for the popularity of cotton masks in India is that they are reusable. They can be washed and sun-dried after every use. The masks made by sportswear brand Puma also take into account the additional sweat released after a workout. Designed with anti-odor finish, these masks have moisture-wicking properties that help in pulling sweat and moisture away from skin, says the brand’s general manager for India and Southeast Asia, Abhishek Ganguly.
The other reason is their aesthetic value. As India begins to adapt to the new normal, these masks are likely to further evolve in their design and quality according to the needs of consumers. Some brands hope these masks become an add-on element to their apparel collection in future; while others expect demand to fizzle out gradually. Whatever may be the case, as of now, masks have become an integral part of the Indian fashion industry.