NEW YORK — Almost everyone is wearing masks these days, and while N95 and blue medical masks are common sights, the average person is more and more choosing fashionable alternatives.
"They kind of fall into four different buckets," explained stylish and market researcher Elizabeth Tamkin. "Solid, minimalist detailing, really eclectic detailing something with fringes and stuff, and patterned."
Tamkin says a mask wardrobe is becoming an investment, with some designer masks now selling for hundreds of dollars.
"At this point if you like getting dressed up, you don't want the first accessory people see on your face to be something that's not intentional," she said.
Many designers, like Christian Siriano, paused their own production in the spring to make masks for hospitals and nursing homes, which were running out of them. Now, though, with the supply up, designers, like Cynthia Rowley, want to offer customers more joyful options.
Take Amy Smilovic of Tibi, who started designing masks in the summer, and will soon sell some paired with coats for the colder weather.
"I think when you can take these things that really do have this very medical necessity to it and at least have a little bit of fun with it, I think that's a really good thing," she explained.
Brooklyn-based designer Sydney Ziems of Serendipitous Project says her handmade masks are not just a fashion statement -- they're also how she stays in business.
"It's been more or less like a saving grace. Even if people aren't buying, they're looking at the ads of the masks and they're interested in them and seeing my other products," she said.
We all know masks save lives, and now we are also learning that, perhaps, as Ziems puts it, "It really is the accessory of 2020."
Did you know you can now watch, read and stay informed with NY1 wherever and whenever you want? Get the new Spectrum News app here.