My first memory of the relationship between surgical masks and Asians was during the 2002 SARS outbreak. Since then, I have seen these masks everywhere — while visiting Asia, in Chinese language school and among my relatives. These surgical masks , which are commonly referred to as smogs, are popular in Asia mainly due to pollution concerns in air quality.
But now it seems that smogs are used for something very different. We’ve already seen Japan create more fashionable smogs for their consumers, but it didn’t stop there. It seems the trend has traveled all the way up to high fashion as various high fashion smog masks walked the runway last month during China Fashion Week in Beijing.
Designers such as Qiaodan Yin Peng Sports Wear Collection and Masha Ma created outfits with studded, urban, minimalistic and other styles of fashionable masks for models to strut the runway with.
It was Yin Peng’s line of “smog couture” clothing last month at China Fashion Week where designed masks were officially inducted into high fashion, with Vader-like ventilators, fencing masks, and other elaborate covers.
Although there seems to be a rise of smogs in fashion, China’s bad air quality is much more than an excuse for accessories– it is a public health concern that has affected the majority of its population. The Beijing marathon, for example, has runners wearing masks and wiping their skin with water-soaked sponges to protect and wipe off pollution.
What do you think? With climate change and air quality as relevant topics everywhere, does smog couture look like it could become fashionable and popular in America as well?