These fashion masks are not medical-grade, as that would require specialized materials. But function is only partly the point. The masks are as much about the visual statement they make as they are about anything practical.

Maybe the most popular face coverings in fashion come from Off-White, the company created by Virgil Abloh, who is also men’s creative director at Louis Vuitton. In April, fashion search engine Lyst ranked a $95 Off-White mask printed with diagonal intersecting arrows the hottest men’s product of that quarter based on sales across online stores and factors such as search volume.

It isn’t Off-White’s first foray into masks. For years Off-White and labels associated with streetwear such as A Bathing Ape (aka Bape) have been producing masks—sometimes branded as pollution masks—and sold them mostly to customers in Asia, where mask-wearing is common. Lyst noted that rappers such as Travis Scott and Future have been appearing in Off-White masks since 2016. The pandemic has created a broader surge of interest. Lyst said searches for fashion face masks jumped 496% over that quarter as shoppers also sought masks from companies such as Fendi and Marcelo Burlon.

On StockX, a sneaker and streetwear resale marketplace, masks are a growing category. In the first couple months after the March lockdowns started in the US, mask sales tripled, according to Jesse Einhorn, senior economist at StockX. Prices grew too.

While the site sells masks from a handful of companies, those by Off-White and Bape are the most popular. StockX has been selling about 200 units a month of one particular Off-White mask with diagonal black-and-white stripes, up from around 80 prior to the lockdowns, Einhorn said. Bape’s WGM shark mask is another top seller, with about 40 selling per month and an average resale price of $124 as of this writing, a big premium over its $40 retail price.

The markup is a function of the same laws of supply and demand that drive resale prices of Hermès handbags. ”For most of the coveted products on our platform, demand generally outstrips supply and as that imbalance grows, resale prices climb,” Einhorn said.

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