In a press briefing in Albany, N.Y. on October 26th, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, in partnership with his daughter Mariah Kennedy Cuomo and The RealReal, revealed that the state chose over two dozen New York-based designers to create masks as part of its “Mask Up” campaign that will be sold exclusively on The RealReal (a luxury consignment shop that is both online and also has several brick-and-mortar locations). The campaign will benefit COVID-19 relief efforts and build awareness of the importance and need to wear masks. We still can’t understand why people can’t do this. It’s to save lives, people! It’s not rocket science?
This is called…Leadership
According to the official New York State Governor’s website, the “Mask Up” campaign will raise funds for communities impacted by COVID-19 by donating mask profits to three charities working in New York and across the country to help people in need – Feeding America, Nurse Heroes and the New York COVID Relief Fund. New York State and The RealReal will release a limited-edition “New York Tough” mask designed by acclaimed New York fashion label Public School as part of a five-week campaign featuring themed weekly mask drops.
Masks can be purchased on TheRealReal ecommerce site: https://www.therealreal.com/products?keywords=NY%20Mask
“As we continue the fight against COVID-19, one fact is clear – masks help stop the spread and save lives. But it’s also clear that COVID fatigue is setting in and that presents its own challenge,” Governor Cuomo said. “We need to find creative ways to encourage people to wear masks. The Mask Up campaign leverages the creativity of the New York fashion community to help solve this public health challenge, while simultaneously raising funds for communities impacted by COVID-19. Take a look at the NY Tough masks and mask up. Together, we will beat this virus.”
Gov. Cuomo said New York State was the first to mandate the wearing of masks and although compliance can’t be regulated, some 98 to 99 percent of people do wear face coverings. And they do it “because they’re smart,” he said, “and care about themselves and one another.”
To further promote the wearing of masks by partnering with designers and The RealReal is “a win-win across the board,” he continued, adding that the designers donated their time and designs to the cause.
“At a time when so many are looking for a way to make a difference, wearing a mask has the power to save lives, and is a statement about who you are,” Mariah Kennedy Cuomo said. “The Mask Up campaign unites incredible designers who are deeply connected to New York, the fashion capital of our country. The RealReal and New York State are partnering to harness the power of the fashion community to convey a very simple, but critically important message: Mask Up. Stop the Spread. Save Lives! Our country is still battling COVID-19, and this campaign demonstrates that we can find fun, creative ways to make an impact.”
Last May, at the height of NY’s first COVID-19 surge, Gov. Cuome brought his daughter, Mariah Kennedy Cuomo, on board as an unpaid informal adviser to the New York State Department of Health. She headed a campaign to have people create 30-second videos encouraging the wearing of masks. The ads were voted on and the top five were used for public service announcements online, with the top vote-getter airing on television as well.
“By combining the power of the fashion community’s influence with the leadership of Governor Cuomo and Mariah Kennedy Cuomo, we can be a collective force for good,” said Julie Wainwright, founder and CEO of The RealReal. “It’s our privilege to bring together such a diverse and talented group of New Yorkers to inspire people to wear a mask, while supporting the work of our charitable partners doing so much for communities impacted by COVID.”
In an interview with WWD, Wainwright, said Kennedy Cuomo, “has been such a force for driving dialogue about the importance of masking up during the pandemic. We were so impressed by her work with New York’s mask ad contest earlier this year. When she reached out with the idea of working together on a campaign we were thrilled to collaborate and help bring New York’s fashion community into the project. We’ve been working with so many designers this year to support their pivots to producing masks and we’re proud to be expanding that work with this campaign and giving back to communities who have been deeply impacted by COVID-19.”
A #MaskUp campaign will be shared on social channels by the state, The RealReal and the designers to encourage people to post a mask selfie, share why they mask up, and tag five friends to do the same.
The Mask Up campaign gives New York designers the ability to be creative and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by designing cool masks, while concurrently raising funds for neighborhoods impacted by COVID-19.
The campaign launched with fashion label Public School, which was founded in 2008 by Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, both natives of New York City. The label is known for its ultra-cool, street-style sensibility. The designers have ambitious sustainability plans to produce many of their products from surplus, vintage, or recycled materials. The mask is a limited-edition black mask with white letters that read: “New York Tough.”
“We are products of New York and represent the resilience and toughness of that New York spirit so it’s only right that we participated in this campaign,” said Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow & Maxwell Osborne, creative directors and co-founders. We wanted to design something that represented the power of the people coming together to fight for a common cause. New Yorkers have always had each other’s backs and that hasn’t changed for this pandemic.”
Every Monday for the next few weeks New York State and The RealReal will introduce new themed masks. Each of the five weekly drops has a theme inspired by one of New York’s core values: tough, smart, united, disciplined and love. A few of the labels that are participating in this charitable campaign are: 3.1 Phillip Lim, 4SDESIGNS, Alejandra Alonso Rojas, Alice + Olivia, Altuzarra, Chromat, Collina Strada, Jonathan Cohen, KES, Mara Hoffman, Mi Jong Lee, Michael Kors, Nili Lotan, Noah, Prabal Gurung, Public School, Rag & Bone, Romeo Hunte, Ryan Roche, Sandy Liang, Studio 189, Tanya Taylor, Thom Browne, Victor Glemaud, and Zero + Maria Cornejo.
According to WWD, Julie Gilhart, chief development officer for Tomorrow London Ltd. was influential in putting the parties together to work on the project and getting the designers on board. “We wanted the group of designers to be a true cross section, from well-known designers like Thom Browne or Michael Kors to up-and-comers like 4S Designs to cult favorites like Noah and Nili Lotan. The Public School boys designed the iconic New York Tough mask and Victor Glemaud was inspired by the taxi drivers,” she said.
“As with so many things during the pandemic, it’s hard to plan out time. You have to be quick on your feet and be able to pivot at a moment’s notice. I’m in awe of how all the designers took time to contribute. They carved out the time during wrapping up their selling season. I know they did because they wanted to help and see it as community service to their home, New York. Every designer had a very personal expression [as] to why making and wearing a mask was important to them,” added Gilhart.
Phillip Lim, cofounder and designer of 3.1 Phillip Lim, felt strongly about participating in the Mask Up campaign. In a WWD interview, Lim stated, “I wear a mask not only to protect myself, but to protect others. Wearing a mask isn’t a political statement, it’s a simple way for us to show respect to our neighbors, our elders, the front-line workers, and everyone who is continuing to fight for the health and safety of our communities.”
Mara Hoffman, founder and designer of Mara Hoffman, agreed about the importance of masks, saying they are “for safety — not just for me, but for those who are most vulnerable. It is in the collective that we can overcome this pandemic and I take my role as an individual seriously in this moment.”
Contemporary designer Tanya Taylor told WWD: “I respect and follow the CDC guidelines and believe wearing a mask not only protects me but those more vulnerable around me. Wearing a mask felt weird at first, but it is a very small action we can all take to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infecting more people. I’ve embraced it as part of how I dress up every day — might as well have fun with it!”