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As the coronavirus pandemic becomes part of everyday life, face masks are becoming the new must-have fashion item, going from small accessory to big business.
Even some of the most legendary fashion houses are getting involved.
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Prada, Louis Vuitton and Dior are sewing face masks exclusively for medical workers, turning production facilities that made fancy gowns into mask-creation locations.
Top accessories designer Lele Sadoughi is also diving into the masks game. Her popular headbands are worn by the Duchess of Cambridge. And, now Ivanka Trump is wearing the designer’s masks. Sadoughi says face masks are here to stay as a trend, but also as an accessory offering peace of mind during uncertain times.
As the big names focus on medical masks, younger and mid-market brands, like Madewell and Rent the Runway, are pouncing on the opportunity to make fashionable masks for the public.
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But for the big players, it’s not all about the bottom line – it’s about Instagram.
“For many top fashion brands, the need around face masks represents more of an opportunity to generate goodwill as opposed to a huge new revenue stream,” Listen First Media CMO Tracy David told FOX Business.
That goodwill is translating into hundreds of thousands of “likes” on social media for fashion houses that are contributing their products to first responders.
Still, small- and medium-sized fashion and design businesses are jumping at the opportunity for additional sales that can make up for lagging apparel revenues.
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Trevor George, who started a subscription service called Mask Club, predicts that mask sales will rival apparel sales over the next 18 months. His company, Trevco, is said to be the largest manufacturer of licensed apparel online. He sells millions of T-shirts embossed with comic-book heroes like Superman every year. And, now he’s selling twice as many masks as T-shirts and even expanding staffing. For every t-shirt customers buy, he donates a medical-grade mask to first responders.
And, in the Berkshires, in western Massachusetts, babywear designer Petit Pilou is making a splash with masks made from super-soft fabric developed for children. Proceeds from those masks are helping the young couple behind the brand make up for lost sales during the pandemic.
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