by Myasia Layne
She’s Single Magazine attended the Fashinnovation Worldwide Talks 2020 on April 21, 2020. The virtual event included panel discussions and talks conducted by fashion industry leaders from Diane Von Furstenberg, Roberta Annan, and Essence Grant. The virtual conference focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, currently affecting the world. Speakers discussed how to thrive despite the world’s current state of affairs.
The Coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, has had an effect on nearly everyone. The first case in the United States was reported in California on February 26, 2020. The virus rapidly spread across the country, with the first death reported three days later on February 29, 2020 in Washington State. Major cities, like New York, began implementing quarantine guidelines and closing non-essential businesses. With the population spending most or all of their time at home, it was not long before boredom inspired innovation.
Founded by husband and wife Jordana and Marcelo Guimaraes, FWWT is a platform that seeks to create positive change within the fashion industry through innovation. Jordana shared her thoughts on the shift in the fashion industry since facing the impact of having to quarantine: “The fashion industry now, everybody’s really opening their eyes. A lot of people that maybe weren’t giving back so much or weren’t collaborating, creating things that really have multipurpose rather than just looking good… now people are really looking to see a few things.”
According to FWWT founder, designers are becoming “…more transparent with what they’re making and why they’re making it and how it’s being made…” Additionally, “…they are looking at a lot of collaborations with different industries to create things that are more than just putting on a t shirt because you like the color.” In particular, we’ve seen the fashion industry collaborate with the medical industry in various ways.
During FWWT’s African Heritage and Design panel discussion, The Narativ creator, Farai Simoyi, spoke about the new, trendy fashion facemasks. Because of how contagious the virus is the government has advised that everyone wear masks in public. Along with hand sanitizer, gloves, and antibacterial spray, protective masks flew off physical and virtual shelves. It, quickly became rare to see someone outside without a mask on. And not too long after that, a few fabulous designers showed us what happens when functionality meets fashion.
To give some background to the functional fashion trend, let’s take a look at the history of international luxury brand Louis Vuitton. The label’s creator, Louis Vuitton, invented the flat top trunk using materials that made the luggage lighter to meet the demands of society’s travel innovations in rail and air. It is in this same spirit of meeting the needs of society that designers today have created functional fashion to bring a bit of joy during a time that will be marked in history as one of the world’s most tragic events.
We at SSM first caught a glimpse of fashion facemask trend on social media. Designer Keresse Dorcely, showcased her masks via her brands Instagram page @six20style. According to the Six/20 website, Dorcely’s clothing line embraces the everyday “superwoman” who wears multiple hats and plays multiple roles throughout the day. As a wife, mother, and entrepreneur, Dorcely creates “garments that can transition” with the woman in transit. Her facemask designs range from celebrating Divine 9 sororities to sassy phrases like “I’ve always been SOCIALLY DISTANT.”
When speaking with Dorcely, she expressed how grateful she is to be able to keep her business productive during the pandemic. Prior to making the masks, she too, was one of the designers whose business came to a screeching halt when non-essential businesses were forced to close. Days before New York’s quarantine guidelines were put into effect, Dorcely had just delivered the fabrics for her Spring 2020 collection to her manufacturer. With the closing of the factory, Dorcely’s plans to release her collection fell apart at the seams.
Her motivation to keep designing inspired Dorcely to turn her attention to the essential workers in need of masks. She has many friends and family working in hospitals and offered to make packs of twenty masks for them and their co-workers. In each pack of twenty, Dorcely would include a “cute mask” with the hope of providing “something funny to make people smile” during this time.
One of her friends, a nurse, noticed the potential in the “cute” masks and suggested she sell them. Dorcely’s masks were a hit with fashionistas that want to be able to make a statement event with half of their face covered. She produces 150 facemasks per week on her own from home to keep up with the demand. The COVID-19 pandemic quarantine guidelines prevent Dorcely from hiring help. Because of this, she is unable to scale her business. However, she looks at the champagne flute half full and appreciates the work that she can do for her those in need of safety and style.