Who says functional can’t be fashionable?
On September 27, wearing a fitted face mask was made mandatory in Victoria – with scarves, bandanas and face shields no longer acceptable. But many Australians have already been wearing them every day, and more and more local designers are adding them to their ranges.
Here are some Aussie companies making face masks – from luxe, silk styles, to high-visibility coverings and make-your-own options – ranging from $12 to $85.
Demand for face masks has soared in recent weeks, and many distributors are racing to keep up with orders. If your choice of mask is sold out, check back again in a couple of days – most of the companies listed below are restocking every week or two – or contact the supplier direct.
The Social Studio
Part fashion school, part clothing label, Melbourne not-for-profit The Social Studio has been powered by the style, skill and hard work of young people from Melbourne’s new refugee and migrant communities for the past 10 years.
Now it’s selling reusable face masks – in a range of bright colours and sizes – at cost price. Each one is made up of three layers of breathable, machine-washable fabrics, so they’re both protective and comfortable.
$12 each. Shop online here.
Run by a mother-and-daughter duo, this Melbourne-based fashion label uses natural fibres to make simple garments for all ages, shapes and sizes.
Its new range of stylish, reversible face masks is created from offcuts of patterned fabric from the Fitzroy studio. The masks are washable and have a contoured shape, which you can alter with a bendable wire that sculpts over the bridge of your nose.
$25 each. Available online.
Melbourne designer Emily Nolan has (briefly) shifted her focus from custom-made suits to face masks, with plain and patterned designs available. The masks are made with double-layered cotton and a malleable wire to fit to your nose.
$23 to $25. Available online.
This Aussie womenswear label is making reusable masks in a variety of vibrant colours and patterns. Masks are made from existing clothing materials and three layers of fabric, and are available in adults and kids’ sizes. You’ll be sent a design at random – think of it as a lucky dip.
$20. Available online – the label is restocking regularly.
Stephanie Kinsman’s Melbourne-based label is known for its elegant couture and custom-made dresses. But when coronavirus hit, she added face masks – for kids and adults – to her online store.
The reusable face masks are available in two colours (black and natural) and they’re made with three layers of 100 per cent cotton, making them durable, breathable and machine-washable.
Kinsman’s selling them at cost price – $15 each – and they’re available in packs of two or four.
$30 to $60. Shop online.
Hey Reflect’o has always blurred the line between function and fashion with its range of high-visibility vests for cyclists (and their dogs). Now, owner Lisa Penney is moving into the mask market.
Penney hand-sews every mask to order from her studio at Adelaide artist hub The Mill. “They went boom in the first two weeks of the [first] lockdown,” she says – she sold 150 masks the first day she put them online.
Penney uses her own double-layered design. “I make each mask from sustainable hemp, and [the] outer layer [is made from] recycled offcuts and fabric seconds I had left over from making vests,” she says. Twelve styles are available, all with the signature Hey Reflect’o heat-bonded reflective pieces for extra visibility at night. They’re also printed with a motif of the SARS-CoV-2 virus – “I thought that’d be funny,” Penney quips. She recommends a 60-degree machine wash to kill all the bugs.
$29. Order online.
Renowned Brisbane fashion designer Gail Sorronda has added a line of face masks (dubbed Serious Flowers) to her range.
Available in black and white and a range of sizes, the masks have a double layer of cotton, an embroidered double-mesh net outer, and elastic ribbon ties.
$44.44. Available online.
Melbourne women’s and men’s fashion label Kloke is known for its comfort and functionality. That extends to its new range of 100 per cent woven cotton face masks. They’re reusable, washable and come with adjustable elastic ear loops. And there are four colours to choose from: pink and green, mini houndstooth, ink, and red check.
$28. Shop online.
In addition to its timeless, ready-to-wear fashion pieces, this Melbourne-made luxury label is now making face masks by hand at its Cremorne studio. The four-layer masks are cut from hypoallergenic Belgian linen and come in four colours: khaki, navy, stone and white.
$45. Available online.
A go-to for graceful, feminine fashion, Melbourne label Kuwaii is now using surplus fabric to make reusable – and machine-washable – face masks. Each one has three layers and a pocket for a filter. New colours and styles are being added weekly.
$25. Shop online – the label is restocking weekly.
K-Lee Design’s Karen de Aizpurua usually works with sequins and spandex, sewing custom dancewear and swimwear, gymnastics leotards and bodybuilding trunks. They’re garments that are designed to show off the body, not cover it up.
De Aizpurua says she started making masks to “keep the surgical masks with our frontline workers who need them to take care of us.” Her masks come in an “everyday style for the everyday person”.
They’re made from bamboo fabric, which she says is ideal for this purpose: “It’s antibacterial, hypoallergenic, luxuriously soft [and] has moisture-wicking and thermos-regulating properties”.
$20. Two (sadly non-sparkly) styles – ear-wrap and tie-up – are available online.
Melbourne Japanese cafe and design warehouse Cibi stocks over 100 styles of traditional, hand-dyed fabrics called tenugui, which can be worn as scarves or headbands or used as tea towels. They can also become cheerful homemade face masks with some simple folds and a bit of elastic. The patterns and aesthetics are diverse – ranging from traditional landscape patterns to sumo wrestlers to piano keys – providing an expressive alternative to plain masks.
St Ali is used to supplying Melburnians with some of the best coffee in town. When the pandemic hit, it started selling hand sanitiser, and now it’s making face masks from copper anti-microbial materials, woven together with hemp using 3D knitting technology. Fancy.
$39. Available online.
Womenswear label Megan Park is now turning fabric offcuts from previous collections into face masks. The handmade masks, available in sizes for kids and adults, are made of 100 per cent cotton and silk-cotton. Each one is double-sided and has a pocket that can hold a disposable filter.
Two for $35. Available online.
Like The Social Studio, Second Stitch is a Melbourne-based, not-for-profit social enterprise that champions the extensive skills of people from refugee, migrant and asylum-seeking backgrounds. The collective usually produces handmade homewares, accessories and bags, but it’s recently added machine-washable fabric face masks to its repertoire.
The masks come in two sizes and are made with 100 per cent tightly woven cotton in a range of two-tone and gingham colourways. Included with each mask are two pieces of elastic – just tie a knot for the perfect fit. And there’s an additional lining so you can slide in a generic filter if required.
$18. Available online.
Melbourne label Collective Closets makes conscious women’s clothing in vibrant prints and classics cuts. Its new range of face masks have been cut from last season’s dead-stock fabrics and are machine-washable. There are two options available: three layers of 100 per cent cotton, or two layers of cotton with an outer layer of wool-look fabric.
$20. Shop online – the label is restocking regularly.
Sisterworks is a not-for-profit organisation supporting women from refugee, migrant and asylum-seeking backgrounds by providing work and empowerment through commerce. The group operates hubs in Bendigo, Richmond and Dandenong where women can attend a range of programs, all focused on “learning by doing”.
When the coronavirus lockdown forced the hubs to close, the group began thinking about ways it could maintain its activities so that community members – who are among the most vulnerable people in Australia – could still earn an income.
The masks Sisterworks produces are simple enough to be made from home, keeping “sisters” employed while social distancing. They’re made from donated cotton fabric and loose-weave muslin, with a pocket to insert an extra filter layers.
$18. Shop online.
For something a little more luxe, Sydney sleepwear label Papinelle is selling pure silk masks. “Using silk provides a chic alternative to standard masks and also has the added benefit of being sustainable, washable and reusable,” says Papinelle founder Renae James.
The masks are made using silk remnants sourced from Papinelle’s regular suppliers. They also have a pocket for inserting a filter.
$39.95 each. Shop online.
This Melbourne couple normally specialises in homewares, but they’ve recently started making face masks. Masks are handmade with locally sourced materials, are reusable and reversible (just make sure you wash them after each use – simply reversing between wears is not recommended).
$28. Available online.
Clear Collective originally started producing masks in NSW in 2019 so people living in bushfire-affected regions could move around more safely outside. Now the company is making masks that come in a variety of prints, colours and sizes to help curb the spread of Covid-19. (Be sure to order a no-valve mask – masks with valves may be less effective at preventing the spread of coronavirus.)
$44.95 to $59.95. Pre-order available online.
Aussie label Third Boi specialises in tracksuits and loungewear, but it’s recently added reusable cotton masks to its range. Available in three colours with a poly-cotton middle layer to act as a filter.
$18. Shop online.
These reusable masks are all-black – perfect for a Melbourne winter wardrobe. They’re available for pre-order now (stock should arrive around August 20). Shipping is free.
$18. Pre-order available online.
This family-owned Aussie business is selling reusable face masks woven with 22 per cent copper yarn, which is purported to have antibacterial properties. The stretchy, form-fitting masks come in several colours (including navy, charcoal, pale pink and black) and four different sizes.
$49. Available online.
This article was updated on 30 September, 2020.