Walk down any busy street in Hong Kong these days and notice the new crop of ground-level shops. You won’t see an influx of indie boutiques or cosy café nooks; instead, it’s storefronts selling the once-scarce and now-abundant essential: The face mask.
It’s easy to get lost in a sea of choice. Are you a tie-dye or military camo person? Do you prefer the tri-pleated surgical profile or the wider one-flap design? Are you pro- or against mask-adjacent accessories?
Part of textile giant Esquel’s portfolio of brands, Determinant masks — like the super-lean collection of men’s shirting essentials from the same line — arrive as a straightforward solution to the now-daily necessity. Pared back to basics, this mask isn’t about look-at-me prints in colours of the season. It is, however, about function-first design that subscribes to an elegant, no-fuss standard; at its core, an answer to the overwhelming question of sustainability.
As the pandemic rages worldwide, other pressing issues took noticeable backseats. Hong Kong is a city with a growing appreciation for sustainable and eco-conscious efforts; however, the safety awarded from single-use surgical masks was prioritised over the environmental problem that single-use designs — in a city of seven-plus million people — would presumably create.
Reusable for up to 30 washes, a single DET30 mask — a three-ply, front-pleated design rendered in a water-repellant, antibacterial-treated cotton — can quantifiably be used for up to a month’s time. To put that number in perspective, that’s 12 face masks compared to 365 annually; in a family unit of four, that’s 48 face masks compared to 1,460.
As part of what started off in February as community-based service, Determinant has, to date, donated over 370,000 of their reusable cotton face masks globally, effectively displacing up to 10 million single-use masks. This holiday season, the Dee Poon-led brand hopes to donate 250,000 masks in Hong Kong; a carefully-considered number that, for a month’s use, displaces the number of single-use masks used by roughly the entire population of the city: 7.5 million.
With the help of NGOs like Women Helping Women Hong Kong and Embrace Life Foundation, an extensive list of charities and community-based syndicates — including but not limited to the YWCA, the North Point Kai Fong Welfare Association and Po Leung Kuk — will be on the receiving end of Determinant’s face masks, to be distributed throughout the city for those in need.
Shop and learn more about the Determinant mask here.