Protecting people and the brand

It really is the ‘must-have’ accessory this summer – though for the worst possible of reasons.

The Face Mask. It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the ‘Jackie O’ or ‘The Birkin’ but it’s guaranteed that far more people are stepping out in one than ever did wearing an iconic pair of sunglasses or carrying a coveted designer handbag.

However, amid the all-too-many unsavoury stories of Covid-19 cash-ins by businesses who put profit before people’s health, a glance at on-line face mask sales shines a very positive light on the fashion industry.

Major brands and independent sellers alike seem united in their effort to make even the most attractive mask an affordable option for most people, with the majority retailing at £15 and under.

Cynics might point out that the protective face mask is a necessity that is all but guaranteed to bring in multiple sales – a fact borne out by the 185% uptick in searches for ‘floral’ ‘Liberty’ and ‘ditsy’ print masks witnessed after the Duchess of Cambridge was pictured on the first Royal outing in a face covering.

But it’s worth noting that many companies are not simply pocketing the profits.

Liberty Fabrics donated more than 5,000 metres of cotton to community volunteers (our lovely colleague Georgina among them!) to make up scrubs, scrub bags and masks for NHS staff in desperate need of PPE.

And many other companies are giving back a portion of their profits from face mask sales to charities such as NHS HEROES and the Trussell Trust foodbanks network.

It’s also fair to say that there have been no obvious attempts to spin these acts of generosity into major PR puffs. The brands really do seem to be doing it for the greater good – and that might be the best decision they ever made.

Recent research by social intelligence company Brandwatch has revealed that interest in ethical and sustainable brands has ‘skyrocketed’ this year. So those companies which showed community spirit and a clear commitment to ethical practices may well benefit from increased customer loyalty in the long term.

It’s good to see the fashion industry showing its more caring side. It’s also amazing to think that it has had zero influence on what is sure to go down in history as The Look of 2020.

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