In smoggy Beijing, many residents are as familiar with the different brands and styles of pollution-filtering face masks as they are major fashion labels. Conversations about the pros and cons of Totobobo, 3M, and Infipure are common, but most of these companies make masks that are purely utilitarian.
California-based Vogmask, however, wants to make pollution masks in China as much a fashion accessory as they are a health precaution. Bridging the gap between the fun but ineffective screen-printed cloth masks sold on the street and the more pragmatic options listed above, Vogmask periodically introduces a new line of trendy designs to choose from.
The latest collection comes from Beijing- and Hong Kong-based Face Slap, a professional face and body painting startup founded in 2009 by Nina Griffee. Face Slap and Vogmask’s new creations will be launched at next month’s annual Hong Kong Fashion Week.
For this project, each mask is individually designed by artists like Griffee, Sam Chun, and Miao Lina Li. The masks ranges from RMB 180 to RMB 225 (US$29 to US$36). Miao says this is only the start of the collaboration with Vogmask, and more styles will be available in the future.
Tech in Asia asked the Face Slap team how it felt about pollution masks becoming both a necessary evil and a fashion accessory in China. Miao replied:
Back in 1952 when London had the Great Smog, there was an estimated of 12,000 fatalities. We are very fortunate enough to be in this time where we are educated and have the technology available that wearing a mask can protect you from harmful particles. To tackle this modern day issue, a fashionable accessory that encourages people to be more aware of their health can only lead to positive results. It’s fashionable to protect your health!
Vogmasks are effective, too. They are designed to mold to the wearer’s face over time, and they filter out just shy of 100 percent of the harmful particulate matter that plagues China’s air. Customers can also get an optional exhale valve and carbon filter.