Keep It On, Please: These Filipino Menswear Designers Are Fashioning Their Signature Face Mask In Function

There is no use arguing here: an absolute essential in the reality we live in, these face mask offerings are a tick for form and function, clearly illustrating its necessity today and in the future.

Related: With The World Changing At An Alarming Rate, Here’s How Fashion Can Actually Help

While a questionable chunk of deluded citizens in the United States are trying desperately to argue that a face mask mandate is equal to herding people into submission from what they allege to be a healthcare hoax and high-powered politicians fumble their way to believing that the carbon dioxide they breath out will severely lower their immunity system while wearing a mask, as well as resorting to steam inhalation therapy as a potential threat to the coronavirus, it must be said that the rest of the thinking world has since taken to wearing the precautionary protection and personal line of defense when tending to their errands or when absolutely needed to head out of the safety of their home. In fact, it has become a social norm that it is much easier to spot a delinquent skipping the face mask for some lazy and inane reason.

A lot has gotten into the discussion, discourse, and debate regarding the face mask since the early onslaught of the pandemic, where in a state of panic, the surgical and medical grade was almost immediately wiped out, so much so that healthcare front liners were left with little to no supplies from an effective filter to halt the spread of the coronavirus. This imbalance in supply and demand has compelled many Filipino designers to step up and fashion everything from scraps to rolls of fabric into face masks that were both functional for the front liners, and eventually down the line, fashionable for the public.

There is no going around it; it looks like this will be the social etiquette from now on. A visible sign of respect, as well as of an assurance that the flow of particles are stalled and limited by the piece of fabric, people have now taken to upping their face mask game by seeking out options that are more attainable as the technical-grade N95 and surgical versions are reserved for those toiling at the front lines of the healthcare crisis. Responding to this new necessity, even finding viable ways to adapt and survive in the flimsiest and challenging of economies, Filipino fashion designers have shifted their productions from couture pieces to charming protective gears that will most definitely save lives. While they’re not a decorative accessory by any means, the human desire for a little fun and fancy to what now makes up a sizable real estate of the face precedes, making everyone up their game in their of styling their face masks.

A word of caution from Filipino designers who have really engineered and thoughtfully developed their face masks, including those we have personally scoured through: Consider fit when deciding on what to pick out and most importantly, make sure that it has pockets for additional filters to further proof the protective layer from the persistent of paranoia. After all, prevention has always been better than cure, and without the latter a reality just yet, this essential wrapped around our face is our most aggressive line of defense in the grander scheme of this never-ending battle. So, for the love of those you hold near and dear, keep it on, please.

Mark Tamayo

If the fabrics used by Mark Tamayo looks familiar it’s because you might have spotted them on the runways, you know, when it was still a thing. For his limited-edition collection dubbed, Orizuru, literally translated from Japanese as a paper crane, the face masks feature details reminiscent of origami. From the folds to the minimalism in design, it is a sublime take on what is now ubiquitous with just enough personality in stitching and prints. Ranging from the traditional to the optical prints, there is one that will fit you best, and we mean that in more ways than one.


Keeping true to the whimsy and quirk of his brand, Randolf, designer RJ Santos charges his take on the face masks with enough caricature and charm to appreciate from even a good social distance away. Making use of retasos or found fabric from past projects, the resulting filters are just as fun as their full-sized fashion counterparts. Whether it be fashion icons multiplied at face value or a burst of flames edging the mask, you will definitely make room for each playful design per day of the week.

Randy Ortiz

Decidedly more minimal than most offerings, the class act of indefatigable Filipino menswear mainstay, Randy Ortiz, can be observed from his face mask creations. Also inspired by Japanese origami and even resembling a ninja concealment, his creations are a jubilant mix of his penchant for prints and bold colors, with some sporting his signature embroidery on the side. Taking fit into utmost consideration, Randy Ortiz has also developed a mechanism that adjusts how snug it will be once worn.

Renan Pacson

Subverting his definitive irreverence to the face mask essential, Renan Pacson offers a range of realizations for his pandemic release. From the stark contrast of his barcode design to the nifty reflective properties of his Sirius series, there is clearly a lot of thought that has gone behind this production. Always preferring function as a prerequisite to his work, Renan Pacson has since diversified his quarantine collection with wide-brimmed hats in gingham, plaid, and houndstooth as part of his cult-favorite, Pambuquid selection, which can come with a set of a matching face mask with adjustable toggle and sling for all your brave venturing out into the unknown.

Russell Villafuerte

What began as a 3 ply textured, washable, and sustainably-sourced response to the demand for a more “designed” face mask, the Russell Villafuerte signature is very much seamed and sewn through the subsequent product line he has since developed in quarantine. From the initial stitched and sensible creations, he has gone to splash more color into his face mask, this time in printed Korean cotton, as well as an assortment of custom prints that run the gamut from skulls, a cartoon Boston Terrier, and even the inimitable Barbra Streisand. Whatever end of the spectrum floats your boat, you will truly be a standout in your choice of Russell Villafuerte face mask, and knowing him, there is a lot more where that came from.

Santi Obcena

Even in the face of an economic adversity, where his craft and career was and to an effect, still is considered non-essential, Santi Obcena didn’t for one second hesitate to use his skills to good use, almost immediately responding to the pandemic by sourcing materials and a sewing club of sorts in the general Quezon city area to create face masks for front liners. Mindfully engineering the humble face mask from a free source pattern online, the Filipino designer has since developed and perfected his iteration of the protective fundamental, considering everything from nose bridge, ear comfort, and overall snug fit of the fabric on the face in different standard sizes. One of the early proponents of the flap pocket insert, Santi Obcena also offers a buckled contraption to pull the loops straining on the ears for a relief that is truly life changing. If that isn’t enough to draw you in, you might want to take a look at the range of prints and patterns that color his humble studio with so much passion, promise, and protection.

Vin Orias

Throwing his hat into the designer face mask game, Vin Orias has recently unveiled his anniversary special offering, the Solihiya Mask. A direct descendant of his tubular bags with similar artisanal flourish, the collectible and functional crafted creation of the stickler for tailoring and precision, there exists a sense of pragmatism and aggression to his leather-lined and woven everyday gear. As decorative as it appears, it is most importantly more than just a pretty piece, it is practical and made with utmost purpose as well.

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