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Published
May 25, 2020
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AEPC partners with NIFT to create designer masks

Published
May 25, 2020

The Apparel Export Promotion Council has partnered with the National Institute of Fashion Technology to create ‘designer masks’ with the hope of starting exports. 

NIFT student Manisha Sen’s winning ‘designer mask’ for Ritu Beri’s recent contest - NIFT- Facebook

 
Around 500 to 600 apparel businesses are manufacturing non-surgical face masks “and many more are likely to start production soon,” AEPC chairman A Sakthivel told TNN. The Central Government has lifted the previous export ban on non-surgical face masks giving apparel exporters a chance to restart cash flow as clothing orders have decreased during lockdown across the globe.
 
“Eventually, the designer masks will replace the regular ones, particularly in the western countries,” said Sakthivel. “We are collaborating with NIFT on designer masks.” NIFT members are now working with the AEPC to ensure masks made in export units based in Gurugram are suitably fashionable. Designers are developing various designs for cotton-based washable masks in both single and double layers. 

Some mask designs include a replaceable filter which can be slotted between two layers of cloth and changed at leisure, TNN reported. Some designers are also incorporating N-95 surgical mask design features along with decorative features such as embroidery and printed fabrics. 
 
Many Indian clothing brands and designers are developing their own ‘fashion masks’. Designer Ritu Beri, known for her use of handloom textiles, recently held a ‘Make Your Own Mask’ contest for young designers and NIFT Kolkata fashion design student Manisha Sen was announced as the winner. Sen’s feminine, embroidered mask made from jute scraps featured “blooming flowers” to “symbolise hope,” she wrote, shared by NIFT on Facebook. 
 
However, there has been some backlash on social media concerning the concept of ‘designer masks’. “Mask is a necessary item and putting privilege (embroidery or anything that puts it into luxury category) is completely nonsensical,” one Facebook user commented on NIFT’s post about Beri’s contest and winning design. 
 
Despite some mixed public opinion, as the coronavirus pandemic continues and ‘non-essential’ product sales remain low, even as businesses begin to open under extended lockdown, designer masks offer many brands an avenue to restart production and exports. 

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