The face of fashion is changing
The face of fashion is changing…at an incredible pace right now, with almost daily, sometimes hourly changes in direction and guidance about the use of face coverings. We are doing our best to keep this blog as up to date as possible with useful information from scientists and other experts in their fields.
In the time before Covid-19 the face of fashion was always moving, sometimes those changes were subtle, sometimes they were outrageous, but there was always movement.
Now we’ve all had a ‘re-set’ moment, a once in a lifetime opportunity to take stock, redress the current situation and build better. Coronavirus has brought many challenges to all walks of life, it’s created humble heroes, shone the light on many aspects of life and history that have been neglected for too long. No-one and nothing is spared but I doubt any of us could have imagined it’s effect on the face of fashion.
The good, the bad and the stereotypes
We seem to love a good stereotype and the face mask is a past master in this space, let’s look at a few examples…
The utility requirements of peoples work, whether that’s in healthcare or in construction and in sport, often as a form of protection following on from the other professional applications.
Countless Superheroes adorn a mask, and the mask itself has been used to entertain, shock and astonish people for centuries.
Criminal activity has long been associated with face masks harking all the way back to the wild west.
Just about every movie baddie has some sort of mask, whether it’s a physical restraint or part of their look.
Unfortunately there are many of these, our collective unconscious bias is vast. Something that we all have to work hard towards resetting in order to stop our minds over simplfying the images we see, compartmentalising them without proper exploration or evidence. Here's just a few thought provoking images, we'll let you arrive at your own conclusions...it's interesting to see unconscious bias at work here, what the images say to you and most importantly why!
All of these ‘reasons’ for wearing a face mask still exist, but there’s new rules – societal drivers and the law of the land – that means face masks are here to stay. At the time of writing this, the likely hood of a COVID vaccine being in place within the next 6-12 months is something of a pipe dream. It’s not for want of effort, nor public support and willing, but the reality is that indoors, in areas where there are large groups of people, face coverings, or face masks are going to be a major part of everyday life for many people.
We love a bit of science and there's a whole load of theories and advice flying around the web about Face Masks, what they can and can't do. The World Health Organisation is constantly reviewing it's advice on face coverings as well, so there's certainly mixed messages/theories about the benefits to society of face masks.
After researching the topic at length we've found this thread really useful, it's backed by real science - experiments in labs by researcher Rich Davis.
There are clearly many benefits to face masks, there's also a huge societal change (experiment) happening right now. It's creating a new level of community and unconscious bias is playing a massive part in the adoption (or not) of the face coverings within different communities. For us, the results are very clear...
Droplets from the average cough travel around eight feet from an uncovered face, they went only 2.5 inches when produced behind a mask made of two layers of simple cotton quilting fabric.
This article in National Geographic provides a well rounded background into the emotional triggers, the physical design issues and the unconscious bias that all come together around face masks.
UK Government guidelines
After weeks of 'will they, won't they' we have clarification that face masks will become compulsory within indoor spaces in the UK from 24th July, here's the BBC report they have also produced this useful guide to wearing face coverings
One of my personal favourites, the emotive power of clothing to set our mind set, protect us, empower us and so much more. Face Masks have been used to demonstrate enclothed cognition many times. They are part of this amazing phenomena because they are front and central to what other people see. Therefore we adopt them as a marker of connection, a quick reference to who we know and trust. Many of us are doing this all day everyday without ever being aware of it, it’s in our thinking and methodologies when assessing the people around us as we look to build relationships.
Where once a friendly smile would welcome someone. That’s now hidden behind the face mask. No one can tell if your teeth are white, your lips plump and shiny, whether or not you’ve got a snotty nose and perhaps best of all, the bad breath will be held at bay – trapped behind the mask – that’s got to be good, right? So what are the alternatives? How can we still greet other people with warmth? First and foremost we are visual creatures, removing the ability to see the whole face means we will most likely move our gaze upwards slightly to concentrate on the eyes.
Your eyes and eye gestures (yes that is a thing) are going to become a really significant personality trait and an important outward expression of your feelings. Hiding eyes behind sunglasses whilst wearing a face mask is going to make life really difficult – there will be nothing to see and read – you can only do this if either you don’t care/want your own space or you know the people around you really well.
Ok as I’ve already mentioned we are visual beings, so after the eyes what else is there to express who you are? Hair and hairstyles have long played a major part in how we express ourselves. Again it’s very visual, there is considerable scope to get creative and ‘speak’ through your hair. Currently there are no hairdressers open, people have resorted to DIY cuts or just longer hair, all of which will ‘say’ things about you. BTW, I’m not sure what I’m gonna do, my hair went missing in action about 25 years ago, maybe I’ll go for a wig? Unlikely I know, I’m much more comfortable with a hat. There’s a lot you can say with a hat.
Obviously the clothes your wear are still going to play a significant role within the overall visual experience that is you and they need to be carefully considered for the time of year, type of event etc, etc.
But here’s where it gets really interesting, there’s now something new to add to the mix, something that many of us have little, if any experience of, the face mask. It’s become one of the most important parts of your look, the thing that might be on your face for many hours some days. So we want solutions that are comfortable and look good. Let’s tackle the comfortable part first.
Comfortable face masks
The comfiest materials are natural – cotton, silk, linen. The properties of each is slightly different and the sustainability varies depending upon how it is growth, harvested, spun and printed. Man-made fibres and synthetics are often less comfortable and tend to create more heat for the wearer. If ever you’ve wrapped cling film around a cut or graze you’ll know exactly what I’m saying and given the warm summer we are experiencing no-one wants to raise their body temperature right now. Selecting the right materials for a face mask is going to be important for your own comfort and the comfort of the planet – minimising the use of raw materials and precious resources.
Ties, loops, strings
The bits that attach the face mask to your head. There’s a lot more to these then you might realise too. For example, ear loops, did you know how much they pull your ears forward, deforming them (sometimes permanently) and rubbing the delicate skin behind the ear. If you also happen to wear glasses, expect a whole host of irritating and annoying slip and general discomfort from ear loops.
Ties and strings look very pleasing in the stylish photos on the website and on Instagram. However in reality they are going to be somewhat less artistically tied and manicured when you tie them but more important, do you want to be putting your hands near your face to do all of this? It’s one of the key things we’ve been told to avoid ever since the beginning of the pandemic. What I find even harder, and perhaps this is just pure ineptitude on my part, though I’d like to think it’s just lack of experience, is tieing the strings behind my head. Have you tried to do a bow, let alone an artistic bow when you can’t actually see what you’re doing?
Elastic headloops are what the pro’s use – doctors and nurses swear by them for comfort. This system has an upper and lower loop to ensure the face mask is held snugly across the bridge of the nose, where the loop goes up around the upper part of the head, and around the lower neck, pulling the mask in and under the chin.
Face mask tips
A washable product offers the best mix of safety and sustainability. Buying something that is made of natural materials means it can, and will wash easily, removing any contamination and reducing your consumption footprint of throw away or plastic based products.
If you need to wear your mask for prolonged periods, make sure that you change your mask everyday. Get yourself 3-4 face masks and wash after each use.
Support people. Those who are making masks for charity or businesses in your area who are employing people to make masks.
There’s a lot going on for everyone right now, we have embraced face masks as being a part of our future. We have spent time with frontline workers to find out what does and doesn’t work for them. Taking the time to understand why and what we can do to improve the situation. Then we’ve up-cycled our pocket squares and other samples of cloth to make a range of masks that compliment our designs and are comfortable to wear. They are all made locally by hand, employing the services of crafts people. And last, but not least, we are supporting those who have put everything on the line for us, with 10% of all mask sales going direct to NHS charities.
The no change, change
The world of payments has also changed dramatically during the past 3 months, where contactless was growing at a healthy rate it has now become the standard way to pay for things with fewer and fewer people and businesses accepting cash as a method of payment.
The CashCuff is part of this transition, we're updating our advice and direction to help demistify contactless payments a little further in a new blog post coming next week. We hope this helps clear up any grey areas or misunderstandings there may be about our CashCuff shirts.
If you’d like to learn more about the processes and development that went into launching the products we are presenting at Insight Intelligence this Thursday, July 2nd 11.30am, it’s a free to attend virtual conference, hope to see you there.
Thanks for reading, stay safe.