By Ndalimpinga Iita

Locals in Namibia are opting for fashionable masks to complement their attires and relief anguish as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the Namibian government first declared mandatory wearing of masks in public spaces, Elvira Simon did not mind the type of mask to wear as long as it was protective. But recently, she realized that she could make a fashion statement by wearing masks that complement her outfits.

“I only just asked a designer to tailor several masks that complement most if not all my outfits,” she said Thursday.

According to the 28-year-old Simon, she now owns more than 15 reusable masks. As such, every time she goes to work or to do some shopping, she selects a mask that matches her outfit.

She is not the only one. Gillet Dennis opts for masks made out of floral fabrics.

“Flowers add life to my style. The floral patterns also impact my mood positively,” she said.

Additionally, locals are also choosing masks made out of bright-colored material to stand out.

Their conviction is that achieving a good look should not be derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I prefer to go for colorful material, especially bright colors. I want to achieve some pairing yet contrast with my look,” said Eveline Matias.

In the meantime, local tailor Selma Shilongo said that she had observed the trends and the emerging pattern of locals wanting to make a fashion statement with masks, evident in the orders for masks placed by clients.

According to Shilongo, most clients opt for masks that would complement their wardrobes.

“People want matching masks to look good. Some people are even showing off their masks, especially the expensive masks with a touch of elegance,” she added.

Not only is that, but making masks fashionable is also therapeutic, according to locals.

“If anything, this is the time to look fashionable as it serves as counsel during this difficult time. The daily mood is also somewhat revealed with the clothes one adorns,” Simon said.

What’s more, some people opt for ethnic and traditional fabric. In most Namibian indigenous groups and spheres of social life, fashion is an integral aspect of people’s lives ranging from clothes, shoes, accessories, and masks are no exception.

Meanwhile, at weddings, brides also make sure that bridesmaid and groomsmen, usually wearing uniformed outfits have matching masks, in terms of color and the fabric.

Moreover, masks are also being used as an advertising tool for corporate and local businesses.

“It is a way to market my business and push my brand and make a sale in the most unusual places,” said Dennis Santos, a local entrepreneur.

In the interim, Anna Nghipondoka, Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, said that creativity and fashion are important as they reflect the culture, hence the potential for designers to maximize on the various opportunities despite COVID-19.

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