fashion design students
Boutique fashion designer Paul Park poses for a photo wearing a face mask that he made, in his workshop in Seoul on March 19, 2020. Fashion design students are also stepping up to supply face masks to frontliners during the pandemic. Source: Ed Jones/AFP

Global crises like pandemics are devastating, but they also spur unity and innovation. In 2020, industries are coming together to fight the common invisible enemy: The deadly COVID-19.

As medical and nursing students are called to the front line, fashion design students are doing their fair share too by using their talents to come up with innovative ways to make face masks.

There have been conflicting messages abt the usage of face masks during COVID-19.

The World Health Organisation maintains that only those who are sick (coughing and sneezing) or taking care of a sick person should wear them, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised using “cloth face coverings” even if you are not sick.

Given that several countries are facing surgical mask shortage, priority is normally given to frontliners to protect them from infected patients.

fashion design students

Employees of Aviatsiya Halychyny clothing brand sew face masks, worn by many as a protective measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on March 24, 2020.
Yuri Dyachyshyn/AFP

Since DIY cloth masks can do the job, a number of fashion design students have taken to their sewing machines to make masks for the public or for frontliners.

In Prague, a group of students at the Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design’s studios has been crafting hundreds of face masks and sending them out to hospitals, retirement homes, volunteers, or anyone else in need of them.

The initiative came about after the local government issued an order that everyone in the country must wear one when they head out, but did not provide them to the public.

Alice Klouzková, an assistant at the university, told Dazed, “During this weekend some hospitals in Czech Republic started to ask for face masks (even handmade) on social media. Because our fashion design students and fashion designers can sew and many have small workshops with sewing machines, they answered the request and began to help.”

Using creative talent for a good cause

It’s not only fashion design students who are putting their talents to good use during this pandemic.

Art student Clarissa Hurst who studies at the Pratt Institute in New York often shares her art and sewing projects on her Instagram account @castleism.

Her recent project includes crafting masks out of fabric scraps for herself, her partner and two brothers. She was contacted by sustainable-fashion company Alternew about helping out for the NYC Face Mask Initiative.

Hurst was keen to get on board. She told NYPost, “I signed up last week and have been making masks ever since.”

Hurst has been whipping up masks made out of tight woven cotton and elastic sent by the clothing company in a sterilised area. She then passes them to a designated car that collects, sterilises and ships the face masks to hospitals for high-risk patients and their caregivers.


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A post shared by Clarissa Marie Hurst (@castleism) on

At the University of Arizona, associate professor of practice at the Norton School of Family & Consumer Sciences decided to give her students, who were minoring in fashion, a class project that involved creating videos on how to DIY masks out of everyday household items.

She said, “I was receiving emails from various students about having anxiety and a feeling of no control over their lives. I decided to give them a project that they could finish and feel proud of.”

“Giving back control over their learning can help combat feelings of helplessness. Remember, the sewing machine was one of our first technical tools that connected work, fashion and society.”

fashion design students

UNLV Assistant Athletic Director, Equipment and Purchasing, Tausha Smith displays one of 1,500 cloth masks from UNLV Athletics as she delivers them to University Medical Center of Southern Nevada as the medical community continues to battle the coronavirus on April 10, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Source: Ethan Miller/AFP

The completed projects included student Lauren Best in the College of Fine Arts showing viewers how to make a mask from a long-sleeved shirt with no sewing required, Jordyn Clarke in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences making a cotton face mask with hair ties for straps, and Brittany Faubelin at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences using a reusable shopping bag and ribbon to craft a mask.

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