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.

Determinant cotton face mask reusable
Determinant’s three-ply, reusable cotton masks, complete with drawcord toggles. (Image courtesy of Determinant)

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.

Close-up of DETERMINANT's three-ply reusable cotton face masks
Close-up of Determinant’s three-ply, front-pleated reusable cotton masks.
(Image courtesy of Determinant)

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.

DETERMINANT's two-pack of reusable cotton face masks retail at HK$65
Determinant’s two-pack of reusable cotton face masks retail at HK$65.
(Image courtesy of Determinant)

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.

Joey Wong
Editor
Constantly in pursuit of a multi-hyphenated career, Joey has written her way through fashion trends, youth culture and luxury retail in New York and Hong Kong. Beyond internet adventures tracking down the perfect vintage find, you can probably catch her sipping on her third oat milk latte of the day in the city’s newest café. She’s currently mourning the loss of TikTok in Hong Kong.