November, 2017 — Kyle Mullin of The Beijinger writes about the latest fad in Chinese smog masks and asks around for some “expert” opinions. Beicology all around. A preview:
“The haze has been heavy lately, and we all, of course, know what that means: we should be strapping on air quality masks to ensure our lungs stay nice and pink. So why do so many of us not heed such sound advice, and instead venture out into the soup with any protection? The discomfort of many masks can frequently be a factor, along with simply forgetting to make the precaution part of our routine. But chicer Beijingers have more aesthetic concerns, worrying that bulky pale masks will clash with their ensembles.
Enter MeHow, a new mask company based out of Shenzhen looking to make lung protection trendy by way of flashy extensions in the shapes of butterflies, wingtips, and other bold molds. You’ve likely seen their ads splattered over the walls of various Beijing subway stations recently, prompting us at the Beijinger to wonder just how much potential such extravagant masks have in our increasingly fashion-forward capital.
After speaking to a handful of designers and fashion writers, the consensus was less than enthusiastic, to say the least. Julia Liang, who blogs about fashion and travel at Heels On the Go, admits that MeHow is on to something with the notion of trendier masks, explaining: “If it were up to me, if I absolutely have to wear a mask, I’d choose something more stylish and different than a mask we’d buy at the convenience store that’s cheap-looking.”
But for Elsbeth van Paridon, founder and editor of the China fashion-focused Temper Magazine, the MeHow masks, as overly flashy as they may be, at least skirt a cardinal fashion sin in her eyes: being bland. “Stylish or not, it is a statement … I do think that the pollution masks have become a staple wardrobe item. And when it comes to staples, you either go big or go home,” she says, before even applauding the butterfly design as a metaphor for nature vs. pollution. She adds: “I’m a proponent. What constitutes a stylish mask? A stylish mask is one you own, I don’t care if you wear Big Bird on your face, if you own it, it’s style.”
Read Mullin’s full report right here, on The Beijinger!