Wherever you go in this lockdown, masks seem to be the key element of fashion, and the following are two observations I had which are unrelated to one another but bind the common desire of human kind to cover their face.
Can fashion change culture? This has been a constant debate in the world, where in people have argued and type casted others in many categories based on their clothing habits. But what happens when a common fashion accessory has become a norm and everyone is forced by law to wear it in different shapes and sizes? What culture does it change? This is something that would be a broader study and needs deep research, but here for this short blog I would like to start with a common saying that Indian parents/elders say to the newer generations, “Kahi pe muh dikhane layak nahi chora”, and in a way corona neutralizes the prolonged effect of such a saying in one go, which has been going on in our culture for generations. Now the kids can create nuisance and simply say, “Kahi pe muh mat dikhao, mask pehen lo”. At times I wonder what would be the new saying that would take its place, and I am sure that it is being coined already in nooks and corners of our country, just waiting to take its place. May be the proud parents would start wearing transparent masks soon so that at least they can show their face and boast about the achievements to their younger counterparts.
The second instance is where the phone has been filled with innovative memes on masks, and at times the masks become the meme itself. Recently I was forwarded one meme where a lady was shown eating a Hot Dog while wearing a mask, as the mask opened at the mouth separated in two ways, she took a bite, and the mask closed. Even though on the face value it does look hilarious, as a designer it takes me back to my student days at NID, foundation year, where we had an assignment in the module SFS (Space Form and Structure) where we had to make an object and defy the function it is meant for. A friend of mine made a cricket bat with a big hole in between. A debate arose that if the ball passed through that and hit the wicket, whether it will be considered hit wicket or bowled.
This lady’s mask reminded me of the same and I started wondering what is more important, function or convenience? Can function become fashion, as we have seen earlier with success stories like the camouflage print initially designed for the military, which had a specific function, and now has been seen in all kinds of clothing, from T-shirts to bandanas and scarfs, and now even in masks!! Well with new challenges lies new opportunities, and the advent of the masks is one such which would change cultures and initiate innovations in our life.
Pritam Saha, Assistant Professor, School of Fashion Design, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)
Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.