It has been over a year since people were alerted about an epidemic, caused by a mysterious viral infection, unfolding in Wuhan, China. Needless to say that lives of people across the world has turned upside down over the last one year. Among the many things that were viewed ‘not as important’ before the start of the pandemic, face masks have become one of the most essential items to avoid getting infected by the coronavirus. Over the past 12 months, face masks have become essential wearables like daily clothing. For many, face masks are a compulsion as they have been forced to wear these things on. But for some, it has become a statement of style and fashion.
Like in different parts of the world, designers in Nepal have also given rise to the trend of “Mask Fashion” showcasing that face masks are not only used for protection against the deadly pathogen which has wreaked havoc across the world but also showcasing their creativity.
Among those designers who have dared to face the challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic is Mishu Shrestha. She has designed and launched a variety of designer face masks in the market over the past one year.
“We have been producing designer face masks for the last four months,” says Shrestha who is the founder of Mishus Designs. “We produce masks using different types of fabrics and cotton available in Nepal. The Pride of Nepal Collection was the most popular face mask we’ve designed with the moon and sun emblazoned on Nepal’s flag. Currently, the demand for this mask is good in the market.”
Her fashion design studio also designs masks targeting the wedding season. But for now, they are keeping the production of wedding masks low as the marriage season is off. “Now that the season is starting soon again, we will increase the production,” informs Shrestha. She has also been producing face masks for various corporate entities by placing logo of the companies by encrypting the initials. “The market demand is good. We have so far sold 2,000 pieces of the moon-sun mask with the Nepali national flag. The demand for our masks of other designs is also good,” shares Shrestha.
The price range of moon-sun mask range from Rs 600 to Rs 800. Similarly, wedding masks can cost up to Rs 1,100.
Radha Dhakal Sapkota is another designer who is not only doing business by producing face masks but is also running a social initiative to help the women whose livelihood has been affected by the pandemic.
After the government imposed lockdown in late March last year, Sapkota and her friends started Hatemalo, a 11-member support group, and started producing masks to help women who lost their income due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. “In the beginning, we produced mask for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She and her group had to work hard for designing the mask to get it approved by the UN body. “It was in the third attempt that our mask was approved. Since then, we have been producing masks for Nepali market and abroad,” says Sapkota who is the owner of Eagle Eye Fashion House. She produces dress-matching designer masks and masks used by participants of various TV shows. “We also take orders from different companies to produce face masks with their official logo,” she mentions, adding “In some face mask designs, we give priority to the fabric, and in some, the priority is filters.”
She also designs face masks for weddings. While taking orders for marriage functions, she says, attention is given to the dress. “When we design dress, we make masks of the same fabric. Similarly, we create designs for party wears and use the same fabric for masks to match the dresses,” she shares. Professional models also demand masks for various purposes for photo shoots and her group designs masks accordingly.
Sapkota has not focused on making much profit as the Hatemalo is a social initiative. This makes the masks they produce affordable. The price range depends on the fabric and their masks sells for Rs 35 to Rs 300. Face masks made from Dhaka and other high-quality fabrics are costlier.
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