covid-19 Life & Style

Reusable, breathable and sustainable masks that help you flaunt #UseLocal

Wear your identity

Bengaluru-based National Institute of Design graduate Rashmi Singh, views the mask as having the power to become the narrative of our times and our identity. “It is going to be a big part of out new normal, just like our everyday clothes,” says Rashmi, and goes on to say that “It is a need that can be defined locally and vocally, simultaneously supporting the creative dignity of the artisans, worst hit during this COVID-19 crisis.”

The masks designed by Rashmi in collaboration with Madhubani, Kalamkari, chickankari and Ikkat artists are designed and constructed taking into consideration sizes and requirements,such as baby, kids, young adults and adults, and are made with fabric and elastic which is covered with fabric. Currently, due to the COVID-19 crisis, Rashmi explains the patterns to the artists via video calls, and explains how they could paint the mask.

“Each of these masks makes use of a craft technique or a traditional weave, made by the artisans from the women's self help groups, and the profit goes to support them. Therefore contributing and not just donating towards the welfare of our craftspeople and art heritage is the need of the hour,” she says.

For details, call: 9743598042 or

— Chitradeepa Anantharaman

Children’s masks

Why should the mask be staid and serious? When 10–year-old Shourya Unnithan posed this question to his mother, designer Sonali Thakur, it set her thinking. At her four-year-old tailoring and designing unit in Kochi, Sonali began with fish-tail masks, then added birds, animal, and flowers to the range. The latest addition is popular superheroes and characters from sci-fi films. Of course, there are also Batman and Dracula masks, in addition to unicorns, hot cakes and flower appliqué work.

Sonali’s masks and can be ordered through WhatsApp on 9400794007

Masks for children from Kalapavriksha Textiles

Masks for children from Kalapavriksha Textiles   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Meanwhile, in Coimbatore 33-year-old S. Gokul Ananth’s company Kalpavriksha Textiles is designing masks with cartoon characters for children. They have already shipped out 4,000 masks on which cheerful characters like Dora, Chotta Bheem, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck jostle for space. The three ply cotton mask has an interior protection layer in melt blown fabric that ensures 85 per cent efficiency of bacterial filtration. “The mask is foldable and made out of breathable fabric. It is reusable for up to 30 washes. Once you wash, dry in sunlight and steam iron, the mask becomes sterilised for reuse,” he says.

Kalpavriksha masks can be ordered on WhatsApp 9916909487

Merin Sara Philip, who runs an online baby clothing store called Zara: Handmade Baby Dresses, is upcycling left over fabric for masks. Her masks have two layers of fabric and come in two sizes— for ages one to five and six to 10. “They have elastic bands making them easy to wear. I make them in vibrant colours and the usual requests that I get are to add lace or to embroider cartoon characters like Dora or Pluto.”

Zara: Handmade Baby Dresses’ masks starts from ₹25. To place orders, call 9744209926

—Priyadarshini Sharma, Jeshi K, Susan Joe Philip

Traditional Weaves

Sree Lakshmi Kalamkari Works in Hyderabad, owned by Yasmin Begum, is a wholesale and retail suppliers of hand printed kalamkari and Pochampally handloom fabric. During the lockdown 23 women in the locality were supplied with Kalamakri and Pochampally material, with which they began to make masks.

Two ply face mask for are priced at ₹18 and ₹17 each for adults and children. They take bulk orders, starting at 100 pieces. Sree Lakshmi Kalamkari Works, Kompally, Hyderabad, can be contacted at 8886440525 / 9676937567.

— Prabalika M Borah

Ayurveda and kasavu

Sobha Vishwanath of Weavers’ Village in Thiruvananthapuram, has introduced Bodha Herbal Ayurvedic masks made from off-white cotton-polyester material, which is infused with neem and tulsi. Says Sobha: “We were keen that the masks we designed were comfortable. My team and I experimented with materials before locking in on this particular blend. They are eco-friendly, washable and reusable.”

She is also doing dressy masks in kasavu.

Made by groups of women come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds in rural areas of the capital city and Alappuzha, the face masks come in sets of three and for every pack bought, Weavers Village will gift one mask to one of the government schools in the city, once the schools reopen.

Email for queries.

Also in Thiruvananthapuram, Maithri Srikant Anand, of Vedhika Design House, has also launched kasavu masks.

“The lockdown has affected the livelihood of weavers in Kerala and so we have introduced handmade cloth masks under the brand name ‘Samraksha’. We have masks made of Paravoor khadi, Payyannur khadi, Balaramapuram weaves... A hit amongst our customers, however, are the Kerala kasavu masks,” says Maithri, adding, “Apart from plain kasavu masks, we have brought out hand embroidered kasavu masks too.”

Proceeds from the sale will go to Samraksha, a fund started by Vedhika, to aid the weaving community.

The masks are available at

— Liza George

Size matters

Reusable, breathable and sustainable masks that help you flaunt #UseLocal

Kochi-based designer Sreejith Jeevan, of Rouka, puts the GI tagged made-in-Chendamangalam Kerala handloom to new use – as masks. Made of the cotton fabric, the washable and reusable masks come in an assortment of colours – black, white, ochre, blue and others. Sold as sets of five, each priced at ₹50, the masks are made of mundu (dhotis). Rather than go in for one size fits all, Rouka masks come in four sizes – for 2-5 year olds, 6-10, 11-15 and for adults.

Check out these masks online at

Kottayam-based designer Joe Ikareth has been making mask himself as his employees cannot come to work to his studio. Starting with masks made of cotton, Kerala handloom fabric he moved on to making them out of water-resistant nanotechnology fabric. And now he is working on designer masks for Baro Market, a Mumbai-based designer store.

The masks are pleated, made of off-white Kerala handloom with a nanotechnology fabric backing and micro-fusing inside. Ikareth says they are based on the ‘reuse-redesign-re-energise’ concept, “We use remaining bits of fabric after cutting our signature Kerala line.” The design detail is edgy especially the placement of borders, taking the boredom out of wearing a mask and becoming instead a statement piece. None of the masks is same, “each design is unique but the concept same. We do the iterations based on the idea,” he says.

For more information, visit

— Shilpa Nair

‘Unmasking’ their talent

Inmates of Telangana’s Cherlapalli jail started stitching masks with the cloth that is produced in another unit by the inmates. It started with the tailoring unit of the inmates stitching masks for themselves and the jail authorities. Then the jailor realised it was a good time to promote ‘use local’ concept.

“We created a safety kit, with all products created in the jail by the inmates. The kit priced at ₹900 consisted of 3 hand sanitisers, 3 liquid soaps, 2 floor cleaner, 4 soaps and 6 reusable cloth masks. We sold them at various colonies within 10 kilometer radius. It was heart-warming to see people readily buying our products even though they can afford expensive fancy masks that are available online. Our masks are simple and come in three different colours — green, blue and white,” says M Sampath, jailor Cherlapally jail.

Aishwarya Upadhye

Reusable, breathable and sustainable masks that help you flaunt #UseLocal

In Andhra Pradesh, Visakhapatnam’s Central Jail tailoring unit is abuzz with inmates running their sewing machines at full steam. Over 35 inmates who previously made cotton and jute bags at this unit, are now spending their days making these masks. Sensing the likely spurt in the demand for the masks, the jail authorities started making masks a week before the lockdown was imposed. “We are making over 1500 masks every day. The inmates wash the cloth and stitch the three-layered reusable masks.”

Working in two shifts the inmates have sewed 40,000 masks that were distributed among the employees of Visakhapatnam Port Trust, police personnel and several NGOs around the city. The masks can be bought from the jail's outlet which is right outside Visakhapatnam Central Jail.

— Prabalika M Borah

Daily fashion needs

Chennai based clothing store for women and kids, Azurina, has come up with 100% cotton fabric masks. Dipu Krishnamurthi, proprietor, says that she had started designing the basic pleated masks for corporates but started focussing on fashion masks anticipating the demand post lockdown. Dipu believes that ‘flaunting their masks’ is, perhaps, how one can make a fashion statement these days. She makes it in three different sizes — small, medium and large — for kids and adults.

“The demand for colourful, fun masks is high from the corporates. We also make use of embroidery,” says Dipu. She adds various elements such as twill tape, mixed prints, lace and colour blocking to her masks. For instance, the two-layered Olson masks, with a mercerised cotton inner layer, has been designed with elastic to make a better fit. The design allows space for a small cavity where a tissue or breathable cotton material can be inserted for added safety. Azurina supports NUR Foundation's Project COVerUp, which provides free cloth masks to the underprivileged.

Those placing mask orders can donate a cloth mask to this project by paying an additional ₹16. For details, call: 9884219837 or visit

— Chitradeepa Anantharaman

Bengaluru-based textile designers Shwetha Shettar, Reena Krishnan and Smitha Murthy made 10,000 cloth masks for the Bengaluru police, funded by Social Venture Partners and FICCI FLO, in April. The trio started MaskOn, an initiative by REE-Soul Free Design.

Shwetha says: “It started with a favour from a friend, who asked for cloth masks. We had some fabric from one of our previous orders and fortunately we could get the masks made because the workers had sewing machines in their houses. It was through video calls and photographs and quick sketches that we made them do a sample and then it just took off from there.”

Reusable, breathable and sustainable masks that help you flaunt #UseLocal

Shwetha adds: “The masks are not a fashion accessory, it’s a safety measure required for now. But that doesn’t mean we have ignored design and fit.” They are priced at ₹35. Speaking about how the masks are designed, with health paramount among all considerations, Shwetha says: “We have taken the model of N95 masks and adapted into a three-layered cotton mask as per guidelines. The masks have cleared the ‘Candle Blow Test’. We did our market research and spoke to medical professionals. ” She adds that the masks are not for medical professionals.

They initially started work with around 10 tailors. After the production process, the masks are delivered to the trio’s houses. “Our family members actively check packing and quality checks. Our families have been very supportive,” says Shwetha.

To place orders with MaskOn call 9845183605/ 9980828846/9008200995. Once the masks are delivered, washing instructions are sent via WhatsApp.

— Sravasti Datta

Women at work

Working at their homes in the 700-year-old Nizamuddin Basti, 100 women aged between 20s and 50s, have made over 8,000 cloth masks that are currently being distributed to residents and the homeless free of cost. Post-lockdown, these masks will be sold at Insha-e-Noor’s kiosk inside the Humayun’s Tomb complex, Delhi. Insha-e-Noor is an organisation born out of the The Humayun’s Tomb-Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative, in 2008.

Sahni, who is the programme coordinator of Vocational Education at Insha-e-Noor, says training in embroidery, paper cutting, crochet and garment construction is a part of a plan to help women earn a living, especially in a post-COVID-19 world. “Cambric cotton cloth was given to them before the lockdown in March; Skin-friendly cloth masks are being made in bulk out of this. The light weight material is moisture absorbent and breathable. Masks are both single-layered and double-layered,” says Sahni. They have also piloted and tested 50 crochet masks. Single layered cloth masks cost ₹20, double layered (without elastic) ₹25, double layered (with elastic) ₹27. Crochet mask is for ₹200

Order from ; delivery will take place after the lockdown lifts

— Madhur Tankha

Masks show the way

It is 5:30 pm and B Krishnakumari is ready to return home after work. She is one of the 12 members of Yaazh Enterprise, a self-help group of women at Periyanaickenpalayam that has undertaken a project to make reusable cotton masks. “I stitched 100 pieces today. My husband is a construction labour and he lost his job. Now, I have to run my family of three,” she says.

Yaazh Enterprise is supported by Keystone Foundation, an NGO based in Kotagiri, Nilgiris. “The women in the group are economically backward. As a part of our social development project, we gave them a two-month training in tailoring and a two-day online class on making masks,” says Vinitha Murukesan, Additional Programme Coordinator, Keystone Foundation.

This is the first project taken up by Yaazh Enterprise. “We started in April. All the proceeds from the sales of the masks come back into the group and we use it to run our families,” says Krishnakumari. The team uses undyed and unbleached cotton fabric sourced from weavers in Erode and Tiruppur. “We decided to stay away from artificial dyes and fabrics to be eco-friendly,” she explains. The masks are two-ply with pleats for protection. It comes with cotton cords that can be tied back. “The cotton fabric suits our climate and it can also be reused after washing and drying under the sun. Each piece is sold for ₹25,” explains Vinitha.

Yaazh Enterprise has now delivered a total of 5000 masks to 37 Panchayaths in the district. “We contacted G Dhwaraganath Singh, the Assistant Director of Town Panchayaths and he was ready to buy our masks for the sanitation workers. The NGO takes care of the marketing and delivery of the products,” she says.

Call 8870857800, 9626010055 to make orders with Yaazh Enterprise.

— Susan Joe Philip

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 4:38:41 AM |

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