It didn’t take long for fashion brands to recognize that masks are the new normal: Collina Strada, Tory Burch, and countless others have designed them in playful, summery prints. Stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, and more have all uploaded photos of themselves wearing coverings that not only protect themselves and others, but also stay true to their personal style. And now we’re seeing the next evolution in this celebrity trend. Artists are producing “merch masks” to encourage wearing them while also promoting their new music.
A quick peruse of the e-stores of artists who have dropped new music this year (stars who have recently dropped music often release accompanying merch) proves the trend is growing. Lady Gaga’s Chromatica shop includes a pink “Sour Candy” mask with fangs on it. Katy Perry is selling a “Smile” face mask in honor of her forthcoming album; she wore it herself recently. Nicki Minaj, Bad Bunny and BTS are on board too.
The majority of celebrity merch masks do not go to charitable causes, though most of them come with CDC guidelines about safe ways to wear them. However, a few artists are using their merch masks for good. Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber have a collaboration mask inspired by their single “Stuck With U” and all net proceeds from it are being donated to the First Responders Children’s Foundation. The Weeknd also has an “XO” face mask named after his record label, and 100% of its proceeds go toward MusiCares Covid-19 relief efforts.
If your first instinct is to scream “Capitalism!” think about why selling merch masks is a clever move. First, if you’re shopping for anything, nothing is more practical than buying a mask. And if you love an artist, wearing them on your face is pretty much the ultimate display of love, and these artists know their most die-hard fans will partake. They are also a more affordable piece to buy versus the pricier hoodies or T-shirts. And ultimately, it’s a memento of the era.
Originally published on Vogue.com