A parcel of masks I sent from Hong Kong – the city is currently overflowing with personal hygiene products – arrived in the UK last weekend. My family is now all set for the end of lockdown. But I forgot to include instructions on how to wear them. Don’t be fooled: there’s etiquette and fashion to consider. And while I’m a later adopter myself, I have seen these trends ebb and flow during my time in Asia.
Colour is the most obvious differentiator. My kin will be sporting the traditional sky blue pleated fabric number made in Vietnam. But bolder dressers match yellow, green, pink or lilac masks to their outfits. Some Hong Kong trendsetters even wear two or three of different colours at a time to create a layered effect. I’m waiting to get my hands on some white ones: they’re clean and simple, and they don’t clash. Black is a political statement in Hong Kong but should work elsewhere.
Size is another concern: standard Asian sizing might have to be modified for export if masks become a long-term fixture. But there are other concerns too. Expats have adopted a “nostrils out” style to aid breathing and prevent foggy glasses. Cordless headphones are also a struggle: mine go flying every time I try to remove my mask. Hardy smokers: stay true to your reckless disregard for personal health by adopting the “across the chin” style beloved by construction workers and delivery men.
Other industries are also adapting: a waiter came to my table last week with a bottle of anti-bac and a pack of hand towels rather than the traditional water and street stalls selling phone cases have diversified into plastic wallets to hold masks during mealtimes. Many trends start in the West but when it comes to masks, Asia is definitely out in front.