Smog Masks Make a Debut During China Fashion Week

By Jessica Darfoor

In the fashion community, fashion weeks mark the time of the year when old trends are disposed of, past styles are recycled and new designs are introduced. It is a time of renewal, and an opportunity for designers to be daring and experiment. This year, there was a particularly unconventional accessory making its debut during China Fashion Week.

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Models in Qiaodan Yin Peng’s sports wear collection donned smog masks during the shows that occurred the last week of October. Unlike the masks typically seen on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, the smog masks either coordinated with or were incorporated into the featured outfits. The masks were colorful and patterned, providing a unique twist to the sports-themed ensembles. Men and women alike wore the masks, which ranged in size from heavily-adorned, surgical style masks to full-faced coverings reminiscent of gas masks.

Perhaps to those outside the region, such accessories may seem like an outlandish choice. However, they are in fact a health necessity or requirement for many Chinese citizens who must be protected from the high levels of smog and air pollution in the area. This choice may have been quite purposeful, as the show occurred during the beginning of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a summit attended by both President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, which highlighted plans to end smog-generating emissions in the country by the year 2030.

Although it may be a while until we see this trend appearing on the pages of Vogue, it may not be as long as we think until designer masks are incorporated into everyday Chinese life.

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