BEIJING (Reuters) – Adorned with intricate designs of orchids, camellias and Chinese characters symbolising good luck, the stylish silk masks created by Chinese fashion designer Zhou Li have become coveted items during the coronavirus outbreak.
Zhou, whose Dejin fashion brand recently exhibited at China Fashion Week, has been making embroidered silk masks equipped with high specification N95 air filters since February, providing the fashion-conscious with protective options.
“When the situation turned very serious, we saw that many people needed to change their masks every four hours,” said Zhou, explaining how she came up with the idea for the reusable masks made from colourful Chinese silk.
Now, as China and other countries lift restrictions, Zhou expects masks will be a necessity for the foreseeable future. She has adapted hers for summer, making them with a thinner silk that allows for better breathability in warmer weather.
The 55-year-old, who is director of design at Shandong Sunbird Garment company, enjoys adding traditional Chinese motifs to her work.
A yellow mask displayed at a workshop in Beijing’s art district is decorated with golden orchids, representing a harmonious family with abundant wealth and many children.
Zhou is also designing personal protective suits, many also featuring flowers, after her friends asked for stylish outer wear to use during air travel.
The company can make around 600 masks a day, and sells them online at 118 yuan ($16) a piece. Zhou plans to market them by inviting influencers to participate in live-streaming on e-commerce platforms, and hopes to expand sales in England and Italy.
“I hope people can wear my masks that protect them, make them look beautiful, bring them good luck and keep them safe,” she said.
Reporting by Tingshu Wang, Irene Wang and Carlos Garcia, Editing by Karishma Singh and Lincoln Feast.