trends

With Face Masks Here to Stay, Brands Are Exploring Mask Accessories

From mall destinations to online startups, brands have found another way to make function fashionable.
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Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

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For anyone who’s still forgetting their mask in the car, dresser, or key holder, retailers have stepped in to keep our face coverings on a short leash—literally.

Brands’ eye view: Companies from the athletic (Athleta) to the aesthetic (Second Wind, Lele Sadoughi) are helping people carry and store their face masks with detachable lanyards and storage cases.

Retailers have stocked mask accoutrements since last fall; some Etsy makers and entrepreneurs got started in the summer. But interest is on the upswing.

  • Global fashion shopping platform Lyst shared with Retail Brew that from Q3 to Q4 last year, searches for “face mask chains” rose 122% on the platform.
  • Searches for “face mask case” rose 28% on Lyst during the same period.

A fun(ctional) shift: Brands are combining practicality with personality. Anne Crisafulli, SVP of merchandising at Madewell, told Retail Brew the brand adapted some of its bestselling necklaces into mask chains to meet that need. Madewell also developed a DIY beading kit for mask chains: “[It] was a hit for Christmas gifting, as our community loved putting their own spin on their chain,” Crisafulli told us.

The movement’s also shaping new brands—like Hang On, a nineties nostalgia line that launched with 2-in-1 mask and glasses chains, along with phone lanyards, in December.

  • “A lot of quarantine has been spent thinking ‘Remember when we used to…’” Alex Bass, founder of Hang On, told us. “This made me think back to moments and styles I miss from my youth and incorporate them into what we are using now.”

We have to mask...

Is there more in the mask accessories economy for brands than practicality? “With lesser lead times and lower price tags, [mask accessories] are quick wins right now in a turbulent climate,” Rebecca Milne, research and analysis director at market intelligence firm Edited, told Retail Brew.

Results so far? They’re generally trending up, but vary by brand.

  • “We generally sell ~3 masks for every chain, [and] I think it just speaks to the necessity of switching your mask more regularly,” Crisafulli at Madewell said.
  • At Stoney Clover Lane, leashes made in-house and carried by third-party brands have sold out upon release, founders Kendall and Libby Glazer told Retail Brew.
  • Lele Sadoughi told the NYT her namesake brand’s mask leashes are on track to become a million dollar category.

Looking ahead...without a definite end to the pandemic in sight, Stoney Clover's founders may speak for every brand in a mask-supporting role: They’ll make accessories “for as long as people are wearing masks,” they told us.

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