JAKARTA/SHAH ALAM (INDONESIA/MALAYSIA) – With the threat of global coronavirus showing no signs of a decrease soon, protective masks are fast being added to the list of fashion accessories for Indonesians and Malaysians, in addition to it being a healthwear essential.
As customers are ordering designs with an imprint of their own faces using reusable neoprene material, bespoke masks are catching on in Indonesia. Some are with smiling faces or big red lips, like the one made for 46-year-old Heni Kusmijati.
“When people see us, they seem to be wondering why we are smiling and laughing,” he said.
A Jakarta print shop added masks to its services after its sales slumped due to the coronavirus, which has infected more than 50,000 Indonesians and killed 2,620.
Customers place orders online and upload their pictures. Masks take 30 minutes to produce and each cost 50,000 rupiah ($3.50), income that has kept Nicholas Septian Sugandi’s business afloat.
“At the beginning, we were sceptical,” he said of making masks. “But later, the demand surged, and it helps us to recover the business loss.”
There are similar ideas around Southeast Asia, like an out-of-work Filipino special effects artist now making horror masks, and a Thai single mother who designs face shields with prints of cartoon and movie characters.
Batik designs are popular in Malaysia, where mask-wearing is not mandatory but is often requested by business establishments. Malaysia has reported nearly 8,600 COVID-19 cases and 121 deaths.
Malaysian textile designer Hafiz Drahman has masks made from soft cotton that include optional pockets for adding filters, crafted from his stocks of cloth decorated using wax and dye, an ancient tradition.
“I began to see a new opportunity in making batik face masks because at that time, we were instructed to wear face masks for personal safety,” Hafiz said in his workshop in Shah Alam city.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field.