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The future of face masks

As we edge into a new way of living, face masks have become a new norm within that. We outline the ways to evolve this product as we enter fall and adjust to using face masks.
The future of face masks | EDITED

Face masks have come to serve a variety of situations as use becomes regulation, embedding them into daily routines.

As we edge into a new way of living, PPE and face masks have become a new norm within that. We outline the 5 ways to evolve this product as we enter fall and adjust to using face masks.

Want to find out how to take advantage of other trends aside from these? Get in touch to see a demo today.

Spotlight on: High-end masks

With designers such as Off-White and Burberry dropping face masks, the product has evolved from a necessity to the latest status symbol and an entry priced buy-in to luxury labels. In contrast to value packs, this opens the market to experiment with premium fabrics and trend-led designs to create an affordable luxury item at an elevated price point. Look to brands who have turned the face mask into a cult item such as The Vampire’s Wife, which offers silk masks and face scarfs between £38-125.00 that sell out within minutes and Candice Cuoco’s 100% lambskin leather masks, which can retail up to £180.00.

1. Adapt for temperature changes

Snoods for coziness and comfort

There’s opportunity to help make children feel more comfortable wearing a covering that has character detailing – sets including snoods can work well here. Neck warmers are also less likely to be whipped off or dropped by a child, which sits more securely.

Built-in & detachable details

Boohoo were quick off the mark, with built-in details landing as early as April across genders – mainly worked into hoodies. As temperatures drop, there’s more space for these. Currently, 68% of ‘snood’ tops retailing are at boohoo or boohooMAN. The ME AND EM product retailing at Selfridges (see below) has a detachable-snood. Though this landed pre-pandemic, it illustrates that the detail can work in the luxury market too.

Balaclavas for optimal covering

Ski masks speak to consumers who live in regions that will feel the depths of winter. It also chimes with the broader movement of interest and love of the outdoors. Designs in black with traditional stitch design detail have arrived from Acne and Supreme, the latter landed early July for $155 USD and £177 GBP at Farfetch and sold out within a week.

Handkerchiefs/bandanas for a trend-led alternative

Riffing off the Western story of the moment, these have been the covering of choice for many celebrities from Olivia Palermo to Sarah Jessica Parker. How useful a scarf is at keeping germs at bay is questionable, but these can be offered as a covering to a plain fitted and more technical mask.

2. Comfort should be front & center

Just 15% of face masks retailing are described as comfortable

Discomfort around wearing face masks is something that retailers must respond to and solve. Provide a product that appeals to those who are struggling to find one that suits them.

Use terms that signal comfort in descriptions

Only 6% of products retailing use the term ‘breathable’ and 7% say ‘lightweight’, including these can help shoppers feel at ease with wearing and purchasing them. Other terms to consider in design and then applying to product descriptions include ‘skin friendly’ noted at SilkFred and Tilly’s, particularly when speaking to acne prone customers who’ve experienced ‘maskne’ – acne brought on by wearing a mask.

Offer size options & fit detail

Dillard’s uses the term ‘comfortable’ most and stock a number of styles that come in a range of sizes rather than a one size fits all. SLIP at Nordstrom features an ‘adjustable metal nose piece’ – with extra details you can command a higher price.

Explore silk options & matching sets

51% of silk masks sit at $20-40 in the US and 38% between £20-40 in the UK. Dolce & Gabbana’s matching silk PJ sets are upwards of £945/$1,193 while Revolve offer one for $21. In The Style’s most recent line with Gemma Collins has matching printed pieces that extend to masks at a much lower price point.

3. Fill the gap in the sports market

Under Armour’s Sportmask sold out in hours

This demonstrates demand. There’s no other retailer with anything close on the market. On UA’s product page shoppers are invited to sign up to notifications for when the item is available again. The mask has an adjustable nose bridge, comes in four sizes and is designed with three layers of different fabrics. Spacer fabric which helps create air pockets to create structure, breathable open-cell foam and the inside layer uses Iso-Chill technology that disperses heat.

Branch out beyond black

Those released by sports retailers have largely been plain black with a small white logo placement. While there’s a place for these subtle designs, those in the sports market should be offering something different too – be that a product more performance based or aesthetically alternative. Forever 21’s Three-Piece Set, though not an overtly technical design speaks to consumers who are keen to return to the gym, feel good in what they are wearing and feel safe.

Nike’s offering focuses on warmth

We’ve tracked snoods at Nike coming to market in October 2018 and its updated styles across Sep/Oct 2019. In April, Nike launched a similar product ahead of schedule. There appears to be no tweaking of the product description to make it coronavirus related, the main focus of function is to keep warm. The latest style launched by Nike is with its VaporKnit fabric which also make no reference to aiding prevention of spreading or catching coronavirus.

4. Formal functions

Decorative coverings to sit over regular masks

Revolve is one retailer that has released a mask covering. The chainmail product comes with a jersey mask to wear underneath. Designers should think outside the box, but ensure that new developments are still functional and provide the required protection.

Coordinating fabrics

Reserve a small run of fabric to create matching masks with. Ensure that the items sit as a product suggestion on the page with the coordinating garments. BHLDN has even launched masks that compliment bridal dresses.

5. Value

Expand multi-packs

Packs of masks can feel fresh with multiple colorways or patterns in them. These can make those who are on a budget feel like they are getting more value and variation for money and can compliment more of their daily situations. Consider offering packs that feature different sizes that can fit across different family members.

Bumper accessories packs

Multi-packs don’t have to be constricted to just multiple masks. SHEIN offers variations of masks with matching hair accessories in bundles.

6. Practicality

Make it versatile

Retailers are doubling up eyeglass chains as mask chains. These are sold together with masks or as separate items. Ranging from brighter, chunkier plastics to more delicate chains – we’ve not noted any plaited leather interpretations which could command a higher price.

Pockets or pouches to store masks retail at both ends of the market, from $9.99 at Zulily to £86 by Serapian at YOOX. Explore these as a gifting option for the festive period. J.McLaughlin’s 3 Piece Sanitizer Set, which includes gloves, a mask and sanitizer in a pouch, is another item that holds potential for gifting.

Also to consider

• If you have outlets in travel hubs, ensure you are stocking masks in these locations. Similarly, as people begin to fly again masks should become a key part of your vacation story communications.

• Making shoppers feel more comfortable in stores by distributing free masks.

• As it becomes essential to wear masks in stores in multiple regions – ‘need a spare?’ or ‘be prepared’ framed stories can work. A spare mask to leave in the car or have in a bag.

• As we edge towards the holiday season, novelty masks could become the new novelty jumper. Similarly Halloween is fast approaching. Offer personalized options and interchangeable features to suit celebrations or moods.

• We noted the lack of reflective materials used, this is something retailers should offer as darker months draw in.

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