Instead of just plain white, grey or black, pollution masks can now bring some color to a smoggy day like today here in Beijing. One Chinese company is even turning sneakers into pollution masks.
From the top of Beijing's tallest tower - at 500 meters, the pollution is visible even on a sunny day.
Anti-smog masks are not only must-haves here, but they're also increasingly turning into fashion objects.
Chinese designer Wang Zhijun recently produced a face mask made from an Adidas sneaker designed by Kanye West.
Wang put the mask up for sale on eBay China in October, drawing a bid of more than 5,000 US dollars.
He has since made around 20 unique smog masks out of expensive sport shoes, such as Nike, Adidas, and New Balance.
With his business, Wang also wants to raise awareness about environmental protection.
"One evening, I was jogging in a park and all of a sudden got the idea, why do I not use my own running shoes and the material to produce a mask? So far, I haven't yet decided whether or not to sell the products, it is still in the experimental phase," Wang said.
The masks have steadily and unavoidably entered everyday life in China. and can now bring some color into a grey, smoggy day.
Anti pollution masks have become a fashion statement, and you can mix and match them with your daily outfits. They are moving from function wear to the catwalks.
Lately, the masks have shown up on runways from Paris to Hong Kong. International designers have also spotted the opportunity.
Swedish company Airinum has teamed up with clothing designers to produce both functional and fashionable 3-D masks.
They combine high-end filtering technology with a universal fit.
"We tested a lot of designs initially, and then we got a response from the market. So we've chosen what we call a classic collection. We have a black, we have a blue and we have a white one. And we have a bit more of a professional look with dots in graphite and purple, and then for the children's mask we have blue and pink with a wildlife pattern. But we also think to bring in a limited edition and do future collabs as well," Alexander Hjertstrom, CEO & Co-founder of Airinum said.
But it’s not the only company. Vogmask in California claims to be the first to market fashionable face masks. The company offers fully washable and reusable devices in a variety of styles and colors. And, there is no end in sight for the mask business.
"First of all, as the income in China continuously increases, people pursue high quality life and of course air quality is very important in that matrix. It is also related to China's more broadly restructuring as China moves away from investment-driven to more consumption-reliant growth that means that a lot of the services sector now has much better opportunities to expand market share," Yang Zhao, chief China economist of Nomura said.
Have a happy and fun mask wearing!