We all wear masks, if not the clothy ones but surely the invisible ones, to pass through the days of our lives. But this story is about the masks that protect us from the germs, dust, and smog of polluted city life.
Let's be honest about one thing: before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were only some people who wore masks regularly. But during and after the pandemic period, people seem to be more into masks.
Mask in fashion
With the combined gesture of social media, online marketing, and the increased idea of commodification, people tend to have everything in style more than ever. It can be a backpack, coffee mug, or even a mask through which people must express their choices and thoughts.
As soon as masks became a part of a necessary lifestyle element, they became a source of fashion in no time, and the market really picked it up soon as Raisa Amin Shaily from 'Khush' states her observation,
"I think the equation between awareness and fashion started from the COVID-19 time. Before that, people mostly used masks in specific areas. But when masks became a part of our regular life, it eventually emerged with the fashion because many people do care about the look they carry."
"And the mask, being a part of the look, obviously needed a retouch with a hint of fashion. No doubt if a mask matches with the attire, it creates a fashionable image. Though the pandemic ended blissfully, 'the mask in fashion' formula stayed with us and people still wear these both out of awareness and for their personal fashion."
Unmasking the business of mask
The branded sellers assure both the quality and safety of the masks they sell as they promise to maintain the guidance of WHO while making the non-medical masks. They use a three-layer protection of synthetic, polypropylene and cotton cloth.
Shaily, as a brand owner, emphasises the quality of their products and says that these are reusable and very convenient for the customers. Though they have started broadening their product horizon, the primary business product was handmade masks. The business peaked in 2020, the year of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both the branded and non-branded masks have risen since the pandemic days. You can see many mask-sellers by the side of the footpath with a long stand with colourful masks hanging in branches. Starting from the baby-sized or printed masks, people can find solo colours and a wide variety here with a very cheap budget, starting from 30 to 80.
It can get better if one is really good at bargaining. 'Baby masks are cheaper because of the smaller sizes. But these masks won't assure you of safety from germs, though the dust can stay away by using these roadside masks.
Sheikh Sulaiman sells masks just beside the Nilkhet bookshops. He has a variety of printed and non-printed monochromatic masks as well as specially designed glittering masks.
Customers mostly buy designer ones, but one-colour masks are also trendy as they are more affordable. "You can find masks ranging from 30-80 tk here. And if you take more than one, there is also a special discount."
The cost of branded masks is not cheap but seems affordable to the customers. Regular printed or monochromatic masks from Khush start from 90 tk. There are also some designer masks with hand-painted or embroidery designs with a selling range of 120-200 tk.
The cost depends on the depth of the design. They also do have customisation if anyone wishes for a more personal touch with their masks.
Every product needs momentum to spread in the market, and even if the momentum passes, some of them stay because a need has already been created in people's lifestyles.
Masks can be a great example of this, and they are indeed a good choice for being safer in a hustling environment where the air is polluted and hazardous for health, according to Dhaka's Air Quality Index measurement.