efore I moved to Vietnam, I used to enjoy running outdoors. Yet because of the bad air quality, I no longer indulge as much as I used to. Driving my motorbike around the city, I cringe at the thought of all of the toxins I inhale every time I leave the house. Yet I still cannot bring myself to sport a facemask. The problem is that as a fashion accessory, facemasks just don’t make the grade. And the selection here is pitiful. Do I want to look like… 1) I was just released from the hospital and am on the mend from a deadly disease? 2) A ninja? 3) Or like the female version of Darth Vader? Protect your health or keep a good fashion sense? I know it sounds terrible, but I’d rather deal with the exhaust fumes.
You Are What You Wear Facemasks have become a work of art
22 | Word June 2015 | wordvietnam.com
So when I heard about a new facemask company that was producing organic, re-usable facemasks that make a fashion statement, I was interested. “I came across Vogmask in Singapore and was intrigued,” says Cindy Tu, the Vietnam distributor. “The filtering textile is actually sewn into the mask, has a one-way exhale valve and can filter 99.978 percent of all airborne contaminants. The design sensibility sets the product apart.” Emerging out of San Francisco, Vogmask has now made its way across Asia. It didn’t reach Vietnam until Tu contacted the company’s co-founder and became the local distributor. Her website, vogmask.vn, was launched in early May. So what sets Vogmask apart from its competitors sold on the side of the road? Says Tu: “Vogmask is the first stylish, high efficiency, well-fitting, comfortable and reusable filtering facemask for general public use in the world.” A big claim. But she has a point. The product’s N99 filtering, or the middle layer of the mask, features nano-fiber textiles that filter more than 99 percent of particles larger than 0.3 microns. Meaning, not only is the mask’s life expectancy longer, but it does a far better job protecting you from those exhaust fumes behind that honking bus than a mask bought from a street vendor.
Wearable Art The facemask as a fashion statement is already gracing the runways. Beijing-based designer and body painter, Nina Griffee, has incorporated the Vogmask facemask design into her Spring/Summer collection for Hong Kong’s Fashion Week in early July. But more important is the selection of colours and patterns available — at present there are 35 options for the fashion-conscious facemask wearer. From tie-dye to plaid to quirky mermaids and a variety of solid colours and additives, prices range from VND86,000 for the head strap accessories to VND860,000 for the vegan leather mask. Buying a fashionable facemask is not going to solve Vietnam’s growing issues with decreasing air quality. And unless you wear it at all times, it’s not going to help with indoor air pollution, which is worse than pollution outdoors. But it is certainly going to give you some personal — and stylish — protection from all those unwelcome pollutants out there. — Rachel Cabakoff For more information visit vogmask.vn or facebook.com/ vogmask.vn
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