Wear your neighborhood pride with stylish Westside designs

By Meera Sastry and Christina Campodonico

Amiga Wild co-owner Sadie Gilliam models a mask from her Lincoln Boulevard lifestyle boutique

COVID-19 has impacted almost every aspect of daily life, and fashion is no exception. On May 13, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made face coverings mandatory for residents whenever leaving one’s home. LA County and Santa Monica quickly followed suit. Over the last month, a spate of studies has come out highlighting the role of masks in curbing transmission of the coronavirus.

Experts predict that we’ll probably be wearing masks for quite some time until a vaccine or effective treatment is developed. And fashion commentators like the New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman report that “they may become a fact of daily life, donned by all of us with the same unthinking passivity as a coat and sunglasses when we leave the house.”

Of late, wearing one (or not) has even become a political statement — with demonstrators at Black Lives Matter rallies wearing face coverings that sport the movement’s name or say “I can’t breathe” (the haunting last words of George Floyd and Eric Garner) while certain politicians make a point of not wearing face coverings when out in public.

For those who choose to make wearing a mask a fashion statement, we’ve got you covered. Though they may be required in L.A., there’s no reason that these face coverings can’t be stylish and even fun! Leave the medical-grade ones for the pros, and check out the offerings below for a selection of fashionable masks crafted by local artists and brands — it’s a great way to support local small businesses while taking care of our community.

From Swimsuits to Face Coverings: Morpheus

Sarah Fisk’s Mar Vista boutique Morpheus had only been open for about two weeks when forced to close by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was the craziest time for all of this to happen,” Fisk says. “You have to figure things out really quickly when all of this happens, especially with a small business.”

Although caught by less-than-ideal timing, Fisk was inspired by others who pivoted their businesses to make face masks and began sewing her own, she was well-prepared by her experience designing and sewing swimsuits.

“I’d never made masks before, but it was cool getting to make something else,” Fisk says. “And I feel like if we can put something fun and happy on people’s faces, it makes it not so bad that we have to wear these now.” Her designs emulate the spirit of Morpheus, which strives to capture the feeling of both her California home and her travels with its homey interior and curated selection of products.

Fisk has also set up a way of giving back. “For everyone sold, I’ve been donating one,” she says. “We’ve given to six or seven hospitals across the country, low-income families, and essential workers.”

Morpheus masks are multilayered, some with built-in interfacing and others with a pocket for wearers to add their own filter, and feature a strap that runs behind the wearer’s head for easy adjustment.

$22 at shopmorpheus.com

A Homegrown Business: BringIt!

Venice moms Kristen Messina and Jane Keller took a different path when it came to creating their masks and brand BringIt! The two had been friends for years, but didn’t think that they would be starting a business until they saw the amount of demand there was for the personal masks they had made.

“We started out making masks for ourselves, family, and friends, because we’re crafty and at the time there was nothing available,” Messina says. “So we started selling them locally, making them out of our kitchen, and that just grew.”

Now, Messina and Keller run a full operation, selling masks through their website and at the Mar Vista Farmers Market. BringIt! is family and community-oriented, using a portion of its proceeds to donate masks, and its founders hope that their newly founded business is contributing to the local economy as well.

“We’ve got seamstresses working for us, we’re sourcing all our materials in the United States if not in Los Angeles or California, and we’re just happy to hopefully be making things easier for other businesses and workers,” Keller says.

BringIt! masks are double-layered and made with organic cotton, and feature bright colors and patterns in three sizes.

$19.50 at bringitmasks.com

‘Late Sunday Afternoon-style’

This Venice boutique typically hand crafts stylish scarves that are “knotted” and “blessed,” using locally sourced deadstock fabric and donates what’s left to make blankets for children entering foster care and comfortable dog beds for animals in local shelters. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, however, they have begun giving back in a new way — by making face masks both for purchase and for donation.

“It’s a one-for-one program, meaning for every mask you purchase for $22, one will be donated to healthcare workers,” LSA founder Matthew Schildkret told The Argonaut in April.

Late Sunday Afternoon masks are multilayered, with a silk or cotton exterior and synthetic interior filter; patterns and colors vary, as each is handmade.

“It makes a really comfortable, Late Sunday Afternoon-style mask,” says Schildkret.

$22 at latesundayafternoon.com

Face Masks that Give Back: Buck Mason

A menswear brand focused on high-quality wardrobe staples, Buck Mason was founded in a garage by two Venice neighbors and has since expanded across California and the rest of the country. Its project to support healthcare and essential workers “Masks for America” has set the goal of donating one million non-medical face masks through a one-for-one program that has already covered the donation of over 638,000 masks.

The masks come in neutral tones and simple patterns, and feature an inner layer with an anti-microbial coating that lasts for up to 30 washes.

$20 for a pack of 5 at buckmason.com

A Touch of Whimsy: Amiga Wild

At once a lifestyle boutique and a community space, Amiga Wild has highlighted local artists, musicians, and makers through its events and products since its founding in 2017. Its colorful masks for adults and children are available for purchase and pick-up at its Lincoln Boulevard location. In terms of giving back, Amiga Wild has provided masks to the nonprofit Worthy of Love, which helps children experiencing homelessness. The masks are made from cotton fabric and feature an inside pocket suitable for the addition of a filter.

Amiga Wild co-owner Alisun Franson also runs her own line of jewelry — Beatrice Holiday, which has also begun selling masks in addition to its usual fare of designs crafted from locally-sourced, repurposed materials. Beatrice Holiday offers an array of patterned masks made from cotton fabric, as well as a few that feature embroidered and expressive lips for a sassier look.

$15 at amigawild.com or $15 or $20 at shopbeatriceholiday.com

Dogtown-style: Juice Magazine

Juice Magazine was founded in 1993 and has since focused on covering the skateboarding, surfing, and punk rock scene. In keeping with their alternative brand, Juice Magazine’s handmade and hand-printed masks sport their logo in bold font with the additional option of slogans such as “Keep Skateboarding A Crime.”

$15 at juicemagazine.com

Artistic Flair: Michael Brunt and Patrick Marston

Artists Patrick Marston and Michael Brunt create murals across Venice, Marina del Rey, and other parts of West LA, along with fine art and plant art installations. The duo’s offering of colorful WrapMasks through Art Imprinted capture the vibrant spirit of Marston’s paintings with a simple, versatile design that can easily be stretched and adjusted to fit different sizes and uses.

$24.95 at artimprinted.com

Japantown Pizazz: Giant Robot

A fixture of Sawtelle Boulevard, the Giant Robot Store features Asian pop culture products, among other fun household items, gifts, and apparel, while its gallery hosts exhibitions by notable contemporary artists. Although previous launches have sold out, keep an eye out for re-stocking of their mask collaboration with Flat Bonnie, a company that sells plush stuffed animals to benefit rabbits and other animals in rescue centers.

Giant Robot x Flat Bonnie masks sport a signature robot print and come in adults, women’s/teen, and child sizes. The design is triple-layered, with a filter pocket and wire that shapes to the wearer’s nose.

$15 at giantrobot.com

Neighborhood Pride: Ruth Chase & Hecho en Venice

Ruth Chase is a Venice native whose paintings and public art installations, including the city-recognized West of Lincoln project, portray her upbringing in Venice during the 1980s. A design with work from the series is available as part of her line of printed masks, along with other paintings of hers as well as a customizable option.

Chase’s masks are double-layered brushed polyester and a portion of proceeds go to the organization Heart to Heart International.

$17 at ruthchase.com

Oscar Galan’s independent clothing brand Hecho en Venice also lets Venice locals show their pride with style. He has recently applied his iconic designs to a series of double-layered face masks, available for pick-up at his home business or shipped to you.

$15. Call (310) 390-9182.