Until recently, it seemed that high levels of pollution were only a problem to be found in some Asian countries, but not any more. Nowadays, air pollution has become one of the biggest problems in the West.
Although many people aren’t even aware of the problem, others are and they’re taking advantage of the opportunity to create new businesses dedicated to high quality, designer pollution masks that are far from the typical paper industrial or surgery masks we are used to. The goal of these new brands is for these masks, which are intended to protect wearers from the very real problem of air pollution, to be sufficiently trendy that they become just another part of our daily accessories.
By making the masks more modern and with attractive designs, the hope is that they will become another part of the streetstyle of major cities, an essential part of any wardrobe.
At least that’s what the Swedish company Airinum thinks, who at the end of 2015 launched their minimalist and elegant mask though the crowdfunding site, Kickstarter. They were able to raise $65,000, more than 6 times their original goal, and are now being sold in more that 60 countries.
Inspired by a Scandanavian sense of style, they currently offer a classic line with 5 different styles for adults and 2 for children, and a limited edition model made in collaboration with other labels, artists and designers.
You should know that two of the co-founders of Airinum are Mattias Wiklund, a designer for the H&M men’s fashion line, and Kemal Alidzikovic, who has worked with labels like Acne and Haglofs.
Another startup that is making waves is O2Today, which got its start at the beginning of 2016 after the founder had lived for a number of years in Asia. Working with the Dutch product designer, Marcel Wanders, they created a smooth mask made, almost in its entirety, from merino wool from New Zealand, a breathable and antimicrobial material, and a discrete design.
The price of masks from O2Today, and from other more established labels such as Vogmask (with colorful designs) and Cambridge Mask Company (with different patterns from patchwork to military) are much less than those of Airinum ($85), due to the fact that they are disposable. Airinum’s system uses a microfiber filter that should be changed after 100 hours of use.
The more daring among you might prefer the more outlandish designer masks from MeHow. Everyone’s sense of taste is different and MeHow definitely knows it. Their masks come in a variety of different forms, from the shape of a butterfly to wings and more.
And then there are exhibition pieces, like those of Lumoscura, which come from the mind of the designer Stephanie Liu. These designer masks are elegant and clean, inspired by nature and produced using 3D printing technology. Liu is currently developing a commercial line with transparent masks and a variety of fastenings.
It seems clear that pollution masks are becoming, little by little, just one more element in our brave new world, influenced by a greater consciousness of the danger to our health that air pollution in major cities can cause. And so the market should offer products that fulfill the different tastes of everyday consumers, from minimalist masks to those with sequins or embroidery, where design seems to trump functionality, but they are really the same.
Written by Isabel Mor, Coolhunter from the Coolhunting Group
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla