Off-White's very timely face masks won't save you from the Coronavirus
No, sorry, not listening. Don't care if medical advice has been approved by the sages in the high tower of the World Health Organisation. If one is to feel safe – as in a total false sense of security sort of safe – you'll follow the good example of Naomi Campbell going full chemical warfare in her homemade hazmat suit. You'll also copy the real ally of humanity who has starved the NHS of a face mask so they can frighten others on the tube.
Or you could do the right thing, and satiate your clinical needs with Off-White. As part of the S/S '20 collection, Virgil Abloh's brainchild has released eight new face masks in a number of designs in-keeping with the label's end-of-the-world-but-make-it-party aesthetic: tape crosses, ice blue 3D renderings, fluoro colourways, that sort of thing.
The appetite for dressing like a surgeon from Mad Max was born in Japanese street culture, in which teens of Tokyo's Harajuku and Shinjuku districts lifted the costumes of apocalyptic anime into real life. And, as we edge ever closer to actual apocalypse (hurrah!), Off-White's key accessory has skyrocketed in value, with resale marketplace StockX listing 2019 face masks at the $200 mark.
The efficacy of face masks however, have been cast largely in doubt no matter how cool and streetwear and subversive they are. They are not recommended by Public Health England, the NHS, the World Health Organisation or the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which are all very reputable bodies if you're not done listening to the experts. What's more, they can do more harm than good.
David Heymann, a health professional who led the WHO's charge against the 2002 SARS epidemic, discouraged their use at a Chatham House press conference. "A mask that is used to stop getting an infection is sometimes not very effective because people take it off to eat, many times they are worn improperly (and) if they get wet and somebody sneezes on that mask it could pass through." And, while they seem to be popular amongst civilians living in the capital cradles of plague, the clinical use of face masks is to protect the patient from fluids, not the caregiver.
Particles can still penetrate the fabric. Most people aren't trained to suit up properly, either. But, if you do feel safer with a face mask, just don't horde clinically-approved options. They're not for you. Off-White's however, very much are.
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