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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Face mask chains: the story behind the pandemic fashion trend that’s here to stay

With masks being part of the first line of defence against Covid-19, stylish accessories for them are on the rise

Dubai start-up Nu Masks is trying to 'make mask chains a thing' in the region. Courtesy Nu Masks 
Dubai start-up Nu Masks is trying to 'make mask chains a thing' in the region. Courtesy Nu Masks 

Only weeks after experts revealed the benefits of face masks against Covid-19, the market started to flood with varieties that promised to protect wearers, while also helping them stand out in a crowd.

From delicate versions made of silk and satin, to ornate sequin-encrusted coverings and logo-branded shields, we’ve just about seen it all. Well, almost.

With the coverings here to stay, the latest pandemic fashion trend to arise is the face mask chain. The idea is simple: much like for your glasses, these chains are attached to the ear loops of a face mask, so it can hang around your neck when you remove it.

It’s not exactly a new idea. In the summer of 2020, many realised they could easily repurpose said glasses chains for their face masks. The reason? It seemed safer, especially when people were in any environment that required you to take the mask off – like in a restaurant.

It solved the problem of where to place the mask so that, instead of compromising it by letting it touch a potentially contaminated surface, you could just let it hang there.

The appeal was instant. Not only was it practical, but it also transformed the face mask into an accessory. In a matter of weeks, the internet was awash with helpful DIY tips for creating your own face mask chain.

Now, with designers hopping aboard the trend, these chains seem to have transcended their practical purposes. Today, you'll find many are about adding some fashionable flair; from chunky, over-the-top plastic links to dainty designs that look more like jewellery.

The options are numerous. A simple online search will result in numerous options, including colourful beaded varieties and unisex adjustable straps for under Dh25.

Big brands are hopping on board, too, from jewellery brand Roxanne Assoulin to Banana Republic. In the US, Second Wind, a company that was launched to “inspire people to feel confident, stylish and comfortable within our new normal”, started rolling out chunky chains in crystal and dainty links in silver, gold and gunmetal.

And, if you needed any more proof that it really is a trend, take a look at some of the celebrity names sporting them: Jennifer Lopez, Elle Fanning, Busy Philipps and even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have all been spotted wearing ever-so-stylish lanyards.

The trend is catching on in the UAE as well. Even Huda Kattan, blogger and founder of Huda Beauty, did a tutorial on TikTok showing followers how they could make their own face mask chain.

Dubai startup NU mask, which has been selling chains since it first launched in June 2020, offers a variety, including metallic versions and ones sporting floral designs, all priced between Dh60 and Dh70.

For NU mask, the simple gold chains sell best, as they go with several looks, although the statement-making tortoiseshell designs and dainty daisy chains are also popular, says a spokesperson.

“Customers love them and love how they can style and accessorise their masks with their outfits to add some extra glam in these trying times. We have a lot of repeat customers who love to mix up the mask and chain styles and try new looks."

The trend shows no sign of abating. After all, as even those vaccinated still run the risk of spreading the disease, the use of face masks – and, by extension, chains – will surely be part of our everyday looks for the foreseeable future.

So it may be time to embrace the trend – in all its over-the-top, over-sized, pearl-studded glory – as the inevitable next link in the pandemic fashion chain.

Updated: January 26, 2021 07:15 PM


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