*Written by fashion maven and PR powerhouse Gail McInnes. Gail is the founder and principle of fashion publicity relations agency Magnet Creative Managment, co-founder of Stylist Box and guru of all things Canadian fashion. She’s worked with some of the best and brightest in the industry, and has curated many incredible and memorable events. Gail lends her taste and her network to help readers protect themselves and each other during the COVID-19 pandemic, but, of course, making it fashion. Check out Gail’s comprehensive list of Canadian fashion designers making masks, and help support local talent, and our communities, while staying safe during this crisis.
Sitting front row at fashion week at the beginning of this year, the last trend on any magazine editor’s mind was face masks. Now they are the hottest accessory of the year – and possibly the decade.
As recommended by Chief Public Health Officer Dr Theresa Tam, all Canadians should wear masks in public, especially when social distancing is a challenge. Setting a prime example, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has chosen to wear masks at his public events – most likely to avoid speaking moistly again. Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney is also recommending Ontarians wear masks while riding public transit. And now, many businesses and other public establishments are asking individuals to wear a mask or face covering before entering
So if our new normal means wearing masks, why not make it fabulously fashionable, support local brands, and give back at the same time?
Not only are many fashion brands and designers across Canada producing stylish masks for the general public, many are providing them at accessible prices, and donating proceeds to support their communities and the fight against COVID-19. It has been incredible to see how many designers have used their skills and time to give back during these – sorry, I’ve got to say it – unprecedented times.
“When I heard retail stores, community centers with pools were being shut down, I thought, ‘No one needs a bathing suit right now.’ But I’ve got a sewing machine and a skill. I’m ready to sew gowns, masks, whatever hospitals need to keep everyone safe,” says Bathing Belle Swimwear owner and designer Danica Salajko, who has shifted her primary focus from her fun printed swimwear to creating masks for children and adults from her Toronto studio.
Eveningwear label Christopher Paunil Designs volunteered to make non-medical masks for local hospitals after former Real Housewives of Toronto star Ann Kaplan approached them, in order to help reserve the medical-grade PPE for frontline medical staff. After posting a make-your-own face mask video on YouTube, they became inundated with requests. After a few weeks, they had hundreds of orders and daily shipments.
“This got us thinking about if there was more that we could do to give back,” explains designer Christopher Paunil, “We have since connected with two organizations, through personal connections, that need support during this time as their primary sources of funding have dried up due to our physical distancing guidelines.”
To be sure you are not only a good citizen, but a stylish one, we;ve put together a list of some Canadian-made companies who are creating masks from practical to the incredibly chic for the entire family.
Price point: $15.00 – $25.00
Sizes available: Adult, one size
Where to buy: mayerman.com
Notable features: Triple-layer, lined with organic cotton for maximum breathability, bendable nose wire, adjustable toggle ear elastic straps
Charitable contribution: Proceeds donated to the renowned LGBTQ2S community organization The 519
Christopher Paunil Designs
Sizes: Adult (Large), Teen/Petite (Medium), Child (Small)
Price: $15.00 – $18.00
Where to buy: christopherpaunil.com/collections/face-masks
Sizes: One size, custom available
Price: $30.00 – $60.00
Where to buy: nicolebach.ca/shop
Charitable contribution: One mask donated for every purchase to the North York Women’s Shelter
Features: Known for their plus size friendly accessories, Rebellious Clove masks are made specifically to fit larger faces. While the mask itself is standard, the elastic ear loops are longer (approx. 8″) to accommodate a larger face
Where to buy: rebelliousclove.com/products/fabric-face-masks
Charitable contribution: Designer Danielle McAllister will donate masks to individuals who otherwise cannot afford one
Olive + Splash
Sizes available: 7 sizes and styles available from XXS child to XL adult
Price: $19.99 and up
Where to buy: oliveandsplash.com/search?q=face+mask&submit=
Charitable contribution: Juravinski Hospital, grocery stores, engineers, community, essential workers, and front line workers
Features: Toronto fashion stalwarts Jim Searle and Chris Tyrell have been leading the Canadian fashion pack for decades. They have revamped their website to include e-commerce (coming the week of May 19)
Where to buy: hoaxcouture.com
Charitable contribution: Thousands of masks have been donated to local long term care homes, First Nations communities near Hudsons Bay through Finding Our Power Together, the 519 Community Centre, and to street outreach workers with Veahavta in Toronto amongst others
Price: one for $20.00, two for $36.00
Sizes available: One size fits most
Where to buy: damzels.com (quantities are updated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2pm)
Features: All masks have a sturdy nose wire, and some are available with a filter pocket depending on preference
Charitable contribution: Michael Garron Hospital, individual front line workers, and other initiatives
Price point: $15.00
Sizes available: Adult and children’s sizes with an added feature that helps with larger size heads
Where to buy: izadaptive.com
Charitable contribution: “So far, we’ve been contributing to the Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, Montreal General Hospital, The Sharpe Foundation, and soon to be donating to a hospital in Vancouver. ” says designer and owner Izzy Camilleri. As of Thursday,May 21, 2020, IZ is also donating proceeds to The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
Where made: Ottawa
Price: $12.50 – $19.50
Where to buy: aboutface-masks.com
Charitable contribution: Every third mask made is donated to Operation Ramzieh which helps get groceries to seniors and economically vulnerable people and Bruyere Hospital Village
Where made: Toronto
Sizes: S, M, L
Where to buy: e3koncept.com
Charitable contribution: Currently prototyping reusable isolation gowns for personal support workers in retirement and nursing homes
Price: $30.00 – $35.00
Sizes: Small (for kids under 12), medium, and large
Where to buy: starkers.com/product/filtered-face-masks/
Unique features: Cut out template for filter included
Charitable contribution: Covenant House, YWCA Toronto, All Creatures Rescue, and buying fabric to create scrub cap donations for nurses across North America. Over 500 masks and 400 scrub caps have been donated so far.
da lish cosmetics
Price: $29.00, shipping included
Sizes: one size
Notable features: The featured lip print on these hand-printed masks is owner Melanie Cruickshank’s actual lip in two of the beauty brand’s bestselling shades.
Charitable contribution: With every purchase of a da lish kiss mask, a portion is donated to food banks across Canada.
Bathing Belle Swimwear
Price: $15.00, free shipping across Canada
Where to buy: bathingbelle.com
Charitable contribution: For every mask sold, a donation is made to the likes of Copernicus Lodge Retirement Home Toronto, First Nations Communities through Finding Our Power Together, and YWCA Women’s shelter Toronto
Price point: Regular masks $15.00. Fashion Mask Series $140 to $225, with a 25% off incentive for a limited time
Where to buy: shellioh.com/shop
Features: The Fashion Mask Series is custom fit and has an adjustable back elastic strap and neck panel
Charitable contribution: 25% of the proceeds go to the Redwood Shelter to help in their continued efforts to help women and children live free from domestic abuse
Price: Sold in packs rather than individually. Masks with ties are $46.00 for a pack of 4 and $115.00 for a pack of 10. Masks with elastics are $48.00 for a pack of 4 and $118.00 for a pack of 10.
Where to buy: dotty.ca/collections/fabric-face-masks
Charitable organizations: Micheal Garron Hospital, Red Door Family Shelter, Valu-Mart Bayview
Where made: Toronto, ON
Sizes available: M for women, L for men
Price: $30.00 – $100.00
Where to buy: narces.com/collections/face-masks
Charitable contribution: Two or more masks will be donated to local health and care institutions for every mask sold
Diana Coatsworth Design
Where made: Toronto, ON
Sizes available: Adult or kids
Price: $12.00 each or 10 for $100.00
Where to buy: dianacoatsworthdesign.com
Charitable contribution: Diana Coatsworth’s very own initiative The Sewing Army, which brings together sewers, makers, and helpers across North America to sew face masks and scrub caps for organizations in need.
Where to buy: hayleyelsaesser.com/collections/masks
Features: Styles often sell out fast, with many on back order
Charitable contribution: 20% of each purchase will be donated to Food Banks Canada Covid Response Fund
Where made: Burlington, ON
Sizes available: one size
Price: $39.99 for 3
Where to buy: josephtassoni.com/collections/accessory/Face-Coverings
Charitable contribution: $5.00 from every purchase goes to the Joseph Brant Hospital COVID-19 Response Plan
Sizes available: XS – L
Price: $36.00 for a 3-pack
Where to buy: redwoodclassics.net/collections/masks
Features: Redwood Classics also sells a DIY Mask Kit for $20 which allows you to make ten washable 2-ply, simple-pleated masks. For every DIY kit sold, Redwood will donate a kit to sewing communities and partnering organizations, enabling them to make more masks and pay it forward.
Charitable contribution: supporting the production of two masks: one for you and one that we will donate to those working on our front lines – those in the healthcare communities, caretakers, grocery store employees, restaurant workers, truck drivers, delivery people, and all essential service providers
Remember, wearing a mask does not replace social distancing, proper hand washing and staying home as much as possible, as a way of reducing the spread of COVID-19. Masks are another tool in our arsenal in this fight. And please be sure to follow the recommended local government guidelines on mask-wearing, learn how to wear your mask correctly, remove it safely, and wash your mask after every use. (I am such a mom, right?)
EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer has purchased masks directly from e3 Koncept, IZ, Damzels with orders on the way from Hayley Elsaesser and Christopher Paunil. She has not been gifted masks from any of the companies mentioned in this article as of press time.