Turning face masks into a fashion statement in Africa
Who says face masks have to be bland? In Africa, fashion designers are injecting some style into masks to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic — encouraging mask use while letting people show some individuality.
Masks with personality in Algeria
Mounia Lazali, a designer in Algeria, has sewn and donated hundreds of masks – singer Joe Batoury models one of her designs, above. She told DW people "want to assert their culture and their tastes, so I think that the mask will not escape the fashion effect. If that can encourage people to protect themselves more, art will have succeeded in its mission by entering citizens’ everyday lives."
Tackling mask shortages in Rwanda
Rwanda-based tailor Alexander Nshimiyimana (second from left, above) told DW he has been producing colorful masks like these because of the stock shortages in the country. Nshimiyimana has tried to keep the price of his masks as affordable as possible so that more people can get access to one. His masks sell for around 50 US cents – while those in Rwanda's pharmacies retail for around US $2.
Splashes of color in Liberia
Liberia-based The Bombchel Factory is an ethical fashion company which helps its all-female staff to become self-sufficient by offering them training in making garments. It is turning unsold skirts into bright face masks like this one, above. For every purchased mask, another gets donated to someone unable to quarantine at home – because they don’t have anywhere to stay.
Stylish masks in Kenya
Kenyan fashion designer David Avido (above), founder of the label 'lookslike avido,' poses with a mask he made, created from leftover cloth. Since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Kenya in March, 'lookslike avido' has so far created and distributed more than 10,000 masks for free to communities in and around the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
Cameroon sister designers do their bit
Ange Goufack (left) and her sister Edmonde Kennang (right) have been producing these colorful face masks in Cameroon, with added plastic across the eyes. Since April 13, the government there has made it mandatory for people to wear face masks in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Donating masks to hospitals in Tunisia
When the coronavirus crisis started, Tunisian designer Myriam Riza (above, adjusting a mask at the workshop of her Miss Anais label) was contacted by hospitals suffering from mask shortages. She produces the masks and distributes them to hospitals using donated fabric. To offset the cost of continuing to provide free masks to clinics, Riza decided to create masks for individual paying customers.