The coronavirus has continued to spread throughout the world, defining the year 2020 as one that everyone would remember. From quarantine lockdowns to work-from-home norms, there have been countless changes in how society has operated.
One of these shifts in social behavior has been the need to wear face masks. While there has been some debate on whether wearing a face mask truly does protect you from the coronavirus, one thing that is certain is that people are beginning to see them as a fashion statement.
Current trends in consumer behavior
According to the CEO of Etsy, the coronavirus has shown a drastic increase in demand for face masks. Based on the data, consumers searched for face masks an average of nine times in one second – all in a single weekend. It was discovered that the number of face mask sellers had surged up to roughly 20,000, five times more than what was previously seen.
According to the Lyst Index, a quarterly report which analyzes the behavior of 9 million consumers every month, they reported a 496% surge in searches for face masks in the last quarter. In fact, the hottest men’s product of Q1 2020 was the Off-White arrow logo face mask, retailing for $95. As evident from the Google Trends image below, there has been drastic uptick in search queries related to face masks from March 2020.
Face masks as a fashion statement
While face masks have primarily been worn as a precautionary measure to safeguard ourselves and people around us (at least in the West), the fashion industry is seeing this as an opportunity to make them trend.
The act of wearing a face mask is becoming more of a norm. Designers, influencers, and fashion companies are finding ways to see the silver lining of the current situation and incorporate them into our daily outfits. For Western culture – where wearing face masks is not normal – people have begun to inject a bit of fun in having to wear a face mask regularly.
Even before the pandemic, famed singer Bille Eilish had begun to make headlines with her appearance at the Grammy Awards, where she donned a Gucci face mask. In March 2020, Nigerian celebrities showed up to award shows sporting their own glitzy face masks as well.
Recently, Vogue magazine featured an interesting story on stylish masks to wear, sharing a catalog of trendy masks available on the market. Moreover, according to Women Wears Daily, wearing masks may not be just a passing trend, as they predict that ‘mask couture’ may in fact begin to appear on-ramps soon.
From a general point of view, glamorizing face masks may appear in bad taste. However, in truth there is some light to it, as it helps to popularize the act of wearing a face mask. While in Asia, wearing face masks has been quite the norm for some time, in the West this ‘trend’ has only surfaced now. And in a culture where wearing a face mask has always been seen as strange, glamorizing them into a fashion accessory has only helped to encourage people to go out and wear them.
Making masks for good
Beyond making masks for fashion, many big-name brands like Dior, Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Lilly Pulitzer, and Christian Siriano are stepping to make masks for good.
These masks are unbranded and are made to be given to doctors and nurses for their protection. In fact, Louis Vuitton began to donate its professionally tailored face masks and hospital gowns to many of the frontline workers in hospitals in Paris to support essential workers during this time of crisis.
Companies like Collin Strada, a New-York based fashion brand, has also jumped into the picture, designing an array of colorful face masks from leftover material of previous collections. With every mask that is sold for $100, the brand aims to donate five face masks to doctors and paramedic staff.
Preparing for the future
While many fashion brands are well-aware of the potential backlash faced for trying to capitalize and sell branded face masks, there is some good to come from this trend. Not only has it encouraged the youth to pick up a mask and wear them outside, but it has also normalized the strange stigma of wearing a mask in the West.
In a recent analysis of 117 listed face masks and buyer activity, StockX, a large resale site in streetwear found that 90 percent of face masks increased in resale price. They also observed that about 80 percent of these items increased in sales volume, with overall mask sales increasing by 75 percent. What was even more surprising from the data was that overall mask spending had gone up 167 percent.
The numbers show that face masks are – at least for now – here to stay. In fact, some analysts believe that they may even have the potential to surpass the popularity of sneakers.
As businesses continue to be on the lookout for new opportunities on what to sell, what has become even more important in these quickly changing times is knowing what and how to purchase.
No matter what trends come, go, or stay, retailers must respond to the shifting consumer demands by knowing how their sales will perform in the coming months. With that in mind, Chain of Demand has recently launched a free COVID-19 retail tracker that helps businesses gain insight into their business and better plan for the upcoming quarters.