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Northwest designers create fashionable face masks

Three local fashion brands pivot during the pandemic making stylish face coverings. #k5evening

When COVID-19 hit many fashion designers were forced to adapt if they wanted to stay in business. Fortunately, they had the skills to make one of the most in-demand products – face masks. And thanks to three local designers, you don't have to sacrifice style to stay safe.

Erica Dalya Massaquoi is the visionary behind The Oula Company. The fashion label is known for its artistic colorful prints.

"Everything is handcrafted," said Massaquoi. "By the time you receive it, three people at the most have touched. That makes it special."

And it seems the public also find her designs special. Oula's face masks sold out overnight. 

"All of a sudden we were working 18 hour days to get the fabric washed and sanitize it," said Massaquoi.

The demand likely came from unexpected publicity when her fashionable masks landed on the pages of GQ, Maxim and USA Today.

Credit: The Oula Company
The Oula Company uses bold colorful prints for its face masks.

If you're looking for more subtle designs, Âdi Collective has you covered. The home and clothing brand is known for its minimalism and sustainability.

"The products are very simple, very ordinary," said Liz Hadley who co-founded Âdi Collective. "But we're also trying to introduce people to our newest neighbors."

Those neighbors are the immigrant and refugee women Âdi Collective employs. The company gives the women the skills they need to thrive. It's a win-win: consumers get a fresh look and these women get a fresh start!

Credit: Âdi Collective
Âdi Collective employees immigrant and refugee women to make its minimalistic masks.

Finally, there's Seattle designer Gustavo Apiti who normally constructs vibrant gowns and custom suits. When the pandemic put his in-person fittings on hold, Apiti found a different way to create couture – fashion-forward face masks.

Credit: Gustavo Apiti
Gustavo Apiti creates fashion-forward masks using high-quality fabric and trimming.

"By nature, I like stuff to be more flashy," said Apiti. "So for me, I decided to use high-quality fabric and nice trimmings."

The unisex masks come in a variety of designs and sizes, are customizable and range in price from $40 to $50.

"It's more for public figures, anyone who wants to look fancy or those who love fashion," said Apiti.

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