WITH face masks likely to become mandatory in Northern Ireland, fashionistas will be able to get out in style thanks to some entrepreneurial local businesses.
esigners are working to ensure that medical style masks aren’t the only option on the market and have come up with a selection of cool facials.
Ministers can make masks mandatory in local stores by August 20 if 70% to 80% of shoppers do not follow official advice to wear them.
But a number of companies have come up with interesting designs, including leopard print and sequined masks.
For example, Suitor Brothers Tailoring, a Belfast menswear specialist run by Chris and William Suitor, offers matching ties and masks for £ 50.
They were inspired to come up with the offer by an internet memo from an American office worker wearing a matching mask and tie under the headline ‘The Drip Is Real’.
“Unfortunately I can’t claim it as an original idea – the meme is the inspiration,” said Chris.
“I had to look up what ‘the IV’ meant and it means fashionable and sexy.
“We thought it would be a bit of fun to copy it.
“Instead of a tie and a matching pocket square set, we offer tie and mask sets in different colors and designs.
“For us it has to be striking and quirky, something unique. We have a range of bright colors and patterns and people love it.”
Chris also founded a new company called Build a Mask in response to the pandemic. It has created thousands of custom logo masks for local businesses and companies around the world.
Ruedi Maguire of Tyrone, who runs a bespoke fashion design company on Lisburn Road in Belfast, also makes fancy and stylish coverings.
His designs have been popular since the beginning of June and he is ready for a new peak in the near future.
“I do a lot of weddings and tailor-made bridal wear and everything was canceled until further notice, so our company stopped the first week of March,” he said.
“We spent about three months trying to make scrubs for the NHS.
“Then I realized it was time to try and put some money back into the company.
“I decided to design a number of face masks. People really seemed intrigued by it and they just ran off.
“As people come under more pressure here, we expect increasing demand.”
Ruedi’s approach to design was to make his masks fantastic and fun as well as safe.
“The pattern was essential because we wanted the masks to protect people from the virus, so we have three layers of fabric and two elastics to keep it tight on the face,” he said.
“We also worked with fabrics that can be washed at high temperatures because we were aware of the waste with disposable masks.”
Sorted with practical considerations, the designer let his imagination work to come up with a range of 12 very different and bold designs costing £ 25 each.
“We have leopard and bling masks and a very popular zebra mask. We sell to both men and women who want to wear something fantastic on their face,” he added.