The Uniform Stylist | Designer Face Mask Collection Australia

DESIGNER FACE MASKS : Why you’ll want to were them right NOW, and on the other side of COVID-19

Face Masks. 

Face Masks are not known to be as a stylish, sustainable and practical fashion accessory?  Or are they?

Know what you want, and ready to SHOP NOW, Think they’re too creepy/ weird/ useless? Read on (you can find the link at the bottom of this blog as well)

Personally – I’ve worn Face Masks for a long time. There was never a question of “I hope I can find a face mask at the shops”. They were always readily available. It was just a matter of what kind of protective mask was needed. Renovating, Cleaning, travelling. I could pick up the appropriate mask for any occasion, anywhere, anytime. Just like toilet paper.

Our founder, Leesa in Mask, March 2018
Our founder, Leesa in a P2 Mask while home-renovating, March 2018

Some masks are designed to combat bugs and germs – others, protect from dust particles. I’d have a few on hand while travelling, and a few P2/N95 spares in the garage for gardening and home improvements (FYI – ‘home improvements’ is not a regular thing for me – hence photographical evidence supplied). This was all before the bushfires ravaged Australia earlier in 2020. I had a few masks at the ready when dirty brown skies became the “new normal” for many of us around Aus during January this year. These (P2/ P3) masks soon became scarce as the AQI (Air Quality Index) plummeted. Scarce – not just for air pollution wimps like me. But for asthmatics, people with serious respiratory issues, fire fighters on the frontline, and for those directly impacted in the bushfire regions.

I’m not asthmatic, and I don’t suffer from respiratory issues. I like to wear protection over my face to minimise feeling sick in these conditions – I just FEEL BETTER.  I want to protect my family too. But, I chose to forgo wearing a mask during most of those polluted, stinking hot days to keep the PPE masks available for the people that REALLY needed them.  I felt ill, often light headed and – like many Australians – helpless. We all did what we could do to help. The images of red skies and children in boats wearing ill-fitting masks still haunt many of us to this day. I made my own mask from scarves and felt a little bit better – although my lungs would probably not have felt that much relief.

Allison Marion's image of her son, Finn fleeing Mallacoota
Allison Marion’s image of her son, Finn fleeing Mallacoota by boat

DUST VS BUGS – and the right PPE DEVICES

Soon after the bushfires eased in Australia, COVID-19 gained it’s momentum by infecting humans outside of its origin/epicentre in Wuhan, China.  Unless you were living under a rock, or in denial, it was inevitable that the virus would land on our shores- and quickly.

Viruses have been around a long time. Mask-wearing travellers have been the norm’ transiting through airports. Especially during the SARS and MERS outbreaks. I often used my eye mask to pop over my mouth if someone coughed while seated near me on a long haul flight. I’d whip out a pack of travel size Dettol wipes from my handbag to disinfect the arm rests if I suspected someone next to me was ill. (I wish I’d stocked up on those mini packets). I was lucky to not get as sick as some of my travel buddies and colleagues.

Not quite Naomi Campbell level. This self confessed germaphobe, doesn’t look so OTT now does she!?!

Naomi Cambell : Face Mask | Credit You Tube
Naomi Campbell : Face Mask | Credit You Tube

It’s well known that disease is easily spread via public transport, and crosses boarders without prejudice. As soon as the novel Caronavirus circulated in the Australian media 24/7, every chemist nation-wide had virtually sold out of these vital, bacterial defence devices. Kn95 and N95 masks/ PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) became as scarce as loo paper. Well, almost as scarce. As I’m writing this – health workers around the world are STILL greatly impacted by the shortage of the PPE gear that protects against bacteria, in the same way the Firefighters ran out of the PPE gear that products against smoke fumes. Many Nurses, Doctors and Paramedics are working with infected patients without the critical protection they need.  More on this issue to follow.

SO, WHY ‘DESIGNER’ MASKS?

I have vulnerable family members, and my parents are over 70. I think all of us are worrying about someone that we love during this crisis (as well as ourselves). I worry about my parents when they go shopping or to the chemist – and especially going to their (non COVID-19 related) medical appointments. They’re around sick, elderly and vulnerable people in those situations. There are simply not enough masks available for everyone. Wearing no masks causes so much anxiety for them.

Last month, when COVID-19 cases started to increase in the local community, along with my anxiety levels, I wore one of my old (used) masks to the supermarket. An impeccably dressed lady, also wearing a mask, leaned in to me and gestured towards my (useless) mask…”Someone should design some trendy masks. I don’t want to go out in public looking like this ”…she seemed to think I’d share her sentiment.

Of course I did. That Someone – should be ME!

BUT WHY NOT?

I came across some conflicting information about cloth designer and “home made” masks. 

  • They don’t work unless they’re made from ‘hydrophobic’ / liquid repellant fabrication’. Or have the correct filter. Or a Ventilator.
  • They do more damage than good once contaminated on the outside of the mask.
  • They’re useless after one wear. 
  • They don’t fit properly.
  • They absorb moisture ….and therefore are higher risk for breeding bacteria.

To list, but only a few ,opinions held by those resistant to the DIY mask movement. More info here #

All valid opinions when combatting a pandemic, and a bushfire. To be clear, I agree. 

As a business, we’re now working with health care authorities, and the TGA to be able to supply approved PPE gear (medical devices) to the frontline workers. They’re not sassy masks, trendy, or pretty. They’re the kind of gear that just, you know, saves lives. Manufacturing PPE gear also helps to keep our factories and workers operating at capacity (while the fashion industry takes a brief hiatus, along with 95% of our clients). We CAN step up, so we will do our best. The PPE masks & isolation gowns will NOT be available to sell on this platform, or to the general public as we need to go through the correct channels, along with correct AU/ ANZ certifications in order to get them to the people who need them the most.

So- what about those cute, trendy masks that we actually WANT to wear? 

Leesa wearing a TUS leopard print mask
Leesa wearing a TUS leopard print mask

 

I WANT my Mum and Dad to wear co-ordinating striped masks on their daily walks.  They do too.

I WANT to wear a stylish mask when I go to the supermarket! If I’m going brush my hair and put on a bra for that one outing per week – I’m also going to add a splash of leopard on my face. Yes, I am.

And I’m NOT alone…

GRAPH - MASKS VS NO MASKS
GRAPH – MASKS VS NO MASKS
  • The USA, UK, and most of Europe have only recently been advised to wear masks in public by their relevant authorities. Any masks. They are encouraged to leave the PPE variety to the healthcare workers.
  • You might have seen a few graphs showing “MASKS VS No MASKS.” Countries where masks have always been regulated do have LESS COVID-19 incidence per capita, not MORE. So…
  • Wearing a mask offers some protection for others from YOU if you’re sick (with any illness), infected with COVID-19, or asymptomatic of the virus. Health authorities do agree on this point. See earlier article #. Just how much protection – well, no one can guarantee. In addition to social distancing, hand washing and staying home – wearing a mask in public can help spread the virus in the community.
  • Many other brands have jumped on the creation of ‘designer’ masks…often paying it forward at the same time. More on how we’d like to pay it forward below.
  • Some people are getting crafty by sewing their own face masks while in isolation. Do you have a Janome in your spare room and an old item of clothing destined for landfill? They would make good friends right about now. Get the older kids onto sewing them and off Tik Tok for a while!

Some people probably need to go back to the drawing board with their concepts….

 

HERE’S WHY YOU’LL LOVE OUR MASKS :

You’ll Stop touching your face!

I touch my face – a lot. I TRY not to. But I eat, drink, think, work and talk with my hands. They’re near my face often. I’d rather have mask as a small bit of defence for my skin than direct contact. I can’t remember what I’ve touched all day long so that I can disinfect it. I can’t even remember what I ate for breakfast. 

They’re sustainable & ethically manufactured

Our masks are not single use or disposable. They can be easily, albeit carefully, washed for re-use. They’re made from good quality, end of line fabric runs that would have gone to waste. We’re NOT making new fabrics for this purpose, and won’t be reprinting as the designs sell out.

Our masks are also produced without exploitation of our workers in our BSCI (ethically certified) factories. 

Mask Liners
Mask Liners

You’re not just protecting yourself.

Wearing a mask while feeling a little “off colour” can protects others. We all have those days when we have to soldier on with a sniffle (from a cold – not caronavirus) at work. Especially if you’re working in an industry preparing food, or working in close contact with other people’s faces. Like a beauty therapist or massage therapist. Especially those that work in warm/ heated confined spaces.  Wearing masks are great to show some consideration towards your clients so you’re not breathing all over them. Adding a fashion mask that’s been designed to be a fashion accessory is going to look well co-ordinated and professional. 

You’ll look good – and feel good.

Ok, we agree there is something Hannibal Lecter-ish in appearance with some masks. Your smile is hidden behind a mask…and that in itself is just kinda weird.

Yet – when the masks have polka dots all over them, or an on trend-floral print, or made from beautiful silk – they look WAY less creepy. We’ll be updating our prints as each design runs out, so you can look forward to updating your masks with fresh designs in the coming months.

I feel better with a fashion accessory over my face and nose. My anxiety welcomes the coverage – especially if I can wear it over  a medical device.

You’ll be supporting small businesses (not just The Uniform Stylist) with your cloth face mask purchase – and be able to pay it forward in your own community.

For every order of $100 or more spent on full prices masks, we’ll add an extra mask (a design of our choice) to your package for you to pass on to a loved one, a neighbour or friend who may want to look stylish too.

***Our cloth face masks are not TGA (or FDA if you’re in the US) approved. They don’t offer 100% protection from catching COVID-19.  They are designed to get you some compliments at the supermarket, and help towards reducing the spread of germs, or inhaling too many particles for low risk individuals. For maximum protection, and style, wear over a TGA approved medical device.

Leesa in spot seam detail mask
Leesa, wears Navy polka dot SEAM detail mask

How to care for your cloth masks.

  • Don’t wear lippy or gloss on your lips.
  • Wash your hands for 25 seconds before putting the mask on, and repeat before removing it.
  • Throw the mask in the washing machine in a separate bag immediately after taking it off. This will help keep your mask in good condition – and will be easier to find when unloading.
  • Wear the TUS Face mask OVER a surgical mask/ disposable liner for best chance of protection. BUT please, purchase the surgical grade masks/ PPE if you’re in a high risk category, infected with COVID-19, or if your essential workplace requires you to do so,
  • Wear the seam detail style for extra snug fit, or the PLEAT style for more flexibility over your facial features and bulky PPE devices.

Stay safe everyone, 

We got this, Leesa

SHOP FACE MASKS

Due to the high surge in requests, and to avoid delays in dispatch – we’ll be updating our mask catalogue regularly.

Options for your free mask design will be chosen at random.

We dispatch under current Victorian government requirements, and within 24 hours. There may be transport delays with our 3rd party couriers. Choose carefully, as we cannot accept returns for worn face masks.

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