A History of the Face Mask Trend and How It’s Doing Today!

by: Tilda
May 8, 2020

This year, the world is going through a lot. From staying at home and working remotely, to facing severe financial losses due to lockdown, 2020 is definitely a life-changing year. However, with every problem, there’s a silver lining and new trends and fads that rise. And the trend growing the fastest this time is the face mask trend.

face mask trend history

But what many of us don’t realize is that this trend has been around longer than the pandemic. And you won’t imagine how big are the brands that hopped on that train!

The Face Mask is Synonymous with Streetwear!

The rise of streetwear isn’t a new phenomenon by any means. It was actually the result of the Hip Hop culture in the 80s. Fast forward to the early 2000s, and new streetwear brands like Bape and Supreme are gaining popularity. From then on, the industry witnessed the birth of the “HypeBeast” wave. And guess which accessory was a HypeBeast streetwear staple? The face mask. 

face mask trend streetwear

However, the origin of that trend was actually medical in the east, after the SARS wave. Later on, people kept on using them for aesthetic and fashion-related reasons. Don’t want anyone to see how tired your face is? Easy, the face mask trend is here to save the day!

Pre-2020 Face Mask Trend

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, streetwear brands were dropping face masks, business as usual. Supreme is an example of brands that dropped face masks and balaclavas regularly before the pandemic. In fact, we gotta admit flexing a Supreme mask got us all leveling up on our streetwear status. Meanwhile, celebrities like Billie Eilish would rock her Gucci face mask to send a message, not for the actual protection.

billie eilish face mask trend

On the other hand, masks have been around since antiquity. People used them for ceremonial and practical reasons. Each country had its own beliefs that included masks, for example, Egyptians wore their masks for ritualistic purposes. Arab women, especially bedouins wear a face mask called Battoulah that covers the face for two reasons. The first reason is for the modesty, while the second reason is a practical one because it protected the nose and mouth from the sand!

face mask trend evolution

COVID-19 and Masks

When Coronavirus hit the world, everybody jumped on the face mask trend like there’s no tomorrow! And when the world was fighting a shortage in masks, brands took the initiative to start making their own face masks. Celebrities and influencers started rocking face masks and encouraged everyone else to do so. However, they didn’t miss the opportunity to help out either! They started selling their own branded face masks for the stans out there to protect themselves in style. Some of these celebrities are Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, and many more, with proceeds going for the relief efforts against Coronavirus.

face mask trend ariana grande

Sneaker Brands and the Face Mask Trend

Sportswear and sneaker brands hopped on the face mask bandwagon to give back to the community. Brands like New Balance, Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas started making masks and shields and selling/donating them to hospitals and individuals. If you’re interested in all the initiatives they took, check this out.

Supreme Face Mask – A Resale Example!

The resale market in light of the face mask trend is booming. Some brands’ face masks are reselling for tens of times their original retail price. An alarmingly obvious example of this is the Supreme Face Mask that dropped in in FW14 and retailed for $24. Pretty cheap for a streetwear brand like Supreme. However, Supreme’s hype and the face mask trend drove the resale value of that same face mask to a whopping average of $405! That’s almost 20 times its original resale value. Another example is face masks by Takashi Murakami that dropped on April 27, 2020. The face mask retailed for $48 and is currently reselling for an average of $357! I mean, we’re on lockdown, but if we were to go out, we’re going out full style!

face mask trend takashi murakami

Is the Face Mask Trend Ever Gonna Go?

The fact that we now need a face mask to stay safe and healthy doesn’t mean it can’t serve another purpose! Face masks can be trendy, stylish and you can use them to make really bold statements. And judging by how things are going now and the fact that more cautious people will opt for face masks even after the outbreak, this trend is here to stay!