Why is everyone getting so worked up about Tala facemasks?

Amal Clooney's sister is in hot water with her fashion label

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Buzz Foto/Shutterstock (4725106r)
Tala Alamuddin
George Clooney and Amal Clooney out and about, New York, America - 28 Apr 2015
George Clooney, Amal Clooney and Amal's parants and sister Tala Alamuddin get dinner at Caravaggio in the Upper East Side
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Tala Alamuddin, sister of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, has released a range of face masks in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Offered through her fashion label Tala, the face protectors are called Le Masque with proceeds going to the Red Cross charity, and come in an assortment of camouflage, leopard and denim designs, with upbeat names such as punk pink camo or cool cat blue. The range also offers storage pouches sized to fit one mask and a bottle of hand santiser.

"In our ever-changing world, we've got you covered," says the website. The mask retails for $33 (Dh121), while the matching (or clashing if that's your thing) pouches start at $35 (Dh128). Made to order, customers are advised it will take between 8 and 12 weeks to be delivered.

Alamuddin has drawn a backlash from those accusing her of trying to cash in on a world pandemic. However, Le Masque is not for those searching for medical-grade face protection. The designer recently took to the pages of Hello magazine to declare "part of Tala brand's mission is to make a difference wherever we can to help those in need, through fashion."

Alamuddin, a long-term resident of Singapore, where, like in Japan, face masks are a common sight, continued: "Masks are a staple in Asian households, and used regularly for colds, pollution, and cosmetic recovery.

“Our masks are not N95 certified, and should be considered a physical barrier for sneezing and colds, with flair, but they are not medically certified.”

The website points out that the masks come in three sizes (including for children) and are a snug fit thanks to the copious use of elastic. Much uproar has been made, too, of the sustainable aspect, with the masks made from factory off-cuts, which would otherwise be discarded. Also, thanks to being made from fabric, the masks and bags are 100 per cent machine washable.

Defenders would argue that Tala is only trying to offer a little brevity in worrying times ("comfort with flair" is how the website puts it), while catering to what is clearly an enormous demand.

But where the good intentions of offering an alternative to pharmacy-bought masks - and injecting some much needed fun into troubled times - falls down, is that by taking up to three months to make, in all probability, the products will be arriving after the present panic has subsided (fingers crossed).

So instead of getting all hot under the collar about a bit of cloth, simply view it, instead, as a way to support a charity. When this Covid-19 crisis dies down (and it will eventually), shoppers can pat themselves on the back for helping out, with the added surprise of a face mask that has been long forgotten about, arriving at the door.