In Sydney we're adapting to a strange new world of going out, and as we practice the check, check, check routine and enjoy life outside of our four walls, a face mask is the ultimate accessory you can be sporting this season.
The NSW government strongly recommends wearing a face mask in situations where it is difficult to maintain 1.5 metres distance from others. This includes riding on public transport, ride shares and high-risk indoor areas. In places like some theatres and arts venues, mask wearing is now mandatory. To be clear, this doesn't mean you need to be wearing a hospital-grade face mask – reusable cloth masks, a homemade face mask or a face covering (such as a scarf or bandana) is also acceptable. Whatever you're wearing on your face, make sure you're wearing it correctly.
So where can you get a mask in Sydney? You can purchase disposable surgical masks and cloth masks from most major chemists and hardware stores, but for a more sustainable and fashion-forward option, many local and national retail stores and creatives have also started selling their own. Here are some we reckon you'll like:
Surry Hills' beloved boutique theatre company Belvoir St Theatre is back into staging shows after six months of an empty stage. In an effort to recoup lockdown related costs it has teamed up with Romance Was Born, the contemporary fashion house behind Cate Blanchett's infamous crochet blanket dress, to release two limited edition mask designs. One of the prints is even designed by Archibald Prize-winning artist Del Kathryn Barton. The masks have been produced in a limited run of 150 in each print, and can be purchased at the Belvoir box office and online. At $45, these are not the most affordable face coverings in town, but they definitely carry some considerable cred.
NSW’s leading health organisation for LGBTQ+ people has dropped a line of branded face masks. These form-fitting, triple-layer masks come in black cotton with ACON's colourful logo to one side. You can mask up knowing that all proceeds from your purchase have gone towards supporting vital ACON programs and services that improve the health and wellbeing of sexuality and gender diverse communities. They're available to purchase singularly ($15), or in packs of two ($28) or four ($55). They can be purchased online or at ACON Surry Hills.
While the Golden Years team patiently waits to resume hosting their events – where they celebrate underplayed classic bangers from '80s and '90s – they've dipped into the mask-making game. They're flogging triple-layered face masks in music-themed prints, with $5 from the sale of each mask being donated to the Bayside Women's Shelter and Street Buffet, two charities that help feed and house some of Sydney's most vulnerable people. You can check them out here on the eBay store.
This Sydney-based boutique coffee company run by three sisters has branched out to face masks, with three-layer pleated designs in a small range of fabric prints heavily featuring the brand's signature teal blue. These masks are currently available for quick delivery Australia wide, and where possible they're delivering parcels via Sendle, which provides 100 per cent carbon neutral delivery. Check them out here.
SParms face masks have been designed with an athletic and active wearer in mind. Using a 3D contoured design for comfort and a choice of fabric ideally suited to breathability make these masks a great choice for those on-the-go or required to wear one for long periods of time. Each face mask contains a copper or nano-silver infused inner layer and there are three varieties to choose from. Check them out here.
This local made-to-order swimwear label is stocking masks created with recycled swimwear fabric. These babies have three layers, with a 100 per cent silk inner and a printed outer made from 78 per cent recycled fibres. Creator Lydia restocks daily and dispatches orders within three business days. Check them out here.
This Sydney business would traditionally be specialising in premium aprons for the hospitality industry and home cooks, however given the current climate the team is instead utilising their resources to make a product they're calling the 'Rise Above Face Mask'. These 100 per cent cotton masks come in a range of colours and prints including a couple of dashing tartans. Check out the Etsy store. NB: estimated delivery between 4-6 days, express option available.
This Sydney-based online retailer is all about enabling Aussies to become environmentally conscious consumers. Ekologi now has skin in the face mask game too, selling locally made, triple-layer, 100 per cent cotton face masks. These biodegradable masks come in a couple of colours and geometric prints. New stock hits the website every few days and orders are dispatched within two days. Check them out here.
For more than two decades, this Oxford Street boutique has been the go-to destination for keeping Sydney's drag queens and fabulous folk dressed to the nines in custom costumes and off-the-rack glamour. If you're after a face mask to wear with pride, the House of Priscilla team has you covered, making masks on site every day with a rainbow spectrum of more than 30 different colours and fabrics to choose from – from sequins to tartans, with a menagerie of animal prints too. Check out the range here, starting at $10. NB: all online orders ready in 1-2 working days, pre-order also available for in-store pick-up at 47 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst.
This small company is printing and sewing masks in Marrickville from 100 per cent natural materials, and there's a couple of great reasons to buy them. For every mask purchased, Saving Face is donating $3 to the Asylum Seeker Centre; and when you buy from the Artist Collaboration Collection you're supporting young local artists, not to mention you'll be sporting funky designs from creatives like Tara Chandra and Bella Meagher. Check out the range here. NB: standard shipping is 2-5 days.
This Sydney-based online store is focused on creating modern apparel that doesn't hurt the environment. They offer next-day delivery on their in-stock masks, with understated monochromatic designs. A new five-layer mask with a waterproof outer-layer and comfortable fabric nose-piece (alternative to wire) is dropping very soon. Check out the range here.
This Marrickville-based collage artist and designer is making reusable face masks using cutoffs from her digitally printed artworks, featuring florals and otherworldly dreamscapes. The handmade masks have a printed poly outer layer and cotton drill inner with a pocket for filters. Check them out here.
This Sydney-based menswear label really sticks to their guns when it comes to bold, eye-catching designs and an Australian-made ethos. They've dropped a range of masks in reversible prints that won't break the bank (starting at $15.95) as well as scrub hats. Check out the range here. NB: online orders dispatched same-day when placed before 3pm or head in-store to the Avalon Beach shop at 1/25 Old Barrenjoey Road.
This Bondi Junction business owned by a husband and wife team has pivoted their sewing rooms from tailoring and alterations to meet the demand for face masks. These triple-layered, 100 per cent cotton masks come in a variety of prints ranging from the cute and cartoony to the feminine and fashionable. Fabric is sourced from local suppliers and they turn them out pretty quickly, check them out here. NB: standard delivery takes 2-6 business days.
These four-layer, form fitting masks come from a small alterations business in Annandale that has pivoted to producing face masks to protect the community and provide work for their staff. They come in three signature colours and at just $13, these might be some of the cheapest reusable face masks you'll find too. You can order online here, or buy one in store at Bee House Alterations, 121 Parramatta Road, Annandale.
Freelance fashion industry professional Rita McCulloch pivoted to sewing masks in April. These made-to-order designs are sewn from designer cotton shirting stock and feature wide coverage with a nose dart and chin gusset. They also come with extra elastic that can be used to relieve ear pressure. Check out the unisex designs here. NB: due to high demand, expect a minimum 7 day wait for delivery.
On again, off again Northern Beaches seamstress Lara is designing, cutting and sewing masks to brighten up your day from her Manly Vale home. These triple-layer masks are regularly stocked and some are made from recycled materials. Check out the range here. Orders are posted the following day.
This elegant and ethical local designer womenswear label has just added stylish face masks to the collection, made with four layers from a range of monochromatic remnant fabrics complete with filter compartment, ear elastic and adjustable wooden beads. Masks available for online order, check them out here.
This funky local designer specialises in vibrant, ethically produced hats and backpacks in retro prints for adults, so creating face masks in the same vein was a logical step. These masks are triple-layered and made from high-quality cotton with stylised straps. Check them out here.
If you're after a statement face mask for a special event, this Rozelle boutique that specialises in bespoke hats and headpieces will have you covered (from nose to chin). They're hand making triple-layered masks embellished with elements like pearls and Swarovski crystals, as well as some more understated face coverings. Order online or pop into the shop at the York Building, 128 Victoria Rd, Rozelle. NB: due to overwhelming demand there is currently a 4-7 working day turnaround.
This Sydney-based maker is listing funky new reversible cotton face masks designs on the regular. Lucetta Stapleton is a wardrobe mistress from the musical theatre world who has turned her hand to manufacturing masks during the arts industry shutdown, with the help some theatrical mates. Check out the constantly-updating variety of prints available from the website here – ranging from vibrant animal prints to cute creatures, planets and Daleks – and scope out matching tote bags, eye masks, zippered pouches and other accessories while you're at it. NB: This maker has prompt delivery within Sydney. Due to demand, only available prints are listed on the website. For updates on available prints, sign up to the mailing list.
Tate and Rushidi
Local fashion designers Ruth Tate and Natalija Rushidi have joined forces, opening up a boutique in Newtown showcasing their timeless and ethically produced pieces. Both makers have turned their attention to producing face masks in fashion-forward and reversible prints. Check out Tate's designs here and Rushidi's designs here. You can order from their prospective websites or head to the boutique at 168 King Street, Newtown, which is open Monday to Saturday from 10am-6pm and Sunday from 11am-5pm.
This not-for-profit Newtown boutique manufacturer is creating cute, colourful masks sewn from remnant fabrics. They're operating a "buy one, give one" model, meaning for every mask you buy, one is donated to a person in need. You can check out the bold prints and order online here, or buy one in-person at the King Street store on Fridays and Saturdays between 10am and 6pm (more opening times to be added soon). NB: orders take at least seven business days to ship. Due to a sudden spike in demand the Social Outfit has capped the number of masks available for sale each day. If sold out, you can check back the following day for more availability.
This Sydney-based creative fashion house is all about serving high fashion sustainably and rescuing unloved clothing from landfill, so it should come as no surprise that they've come out with their own fashionable, sustainable masks made from remnant fabrics. These masks are created with biodegradable luxe Belgian hemp, silk and linen with organic cotton elastic and responsible sourced rubber. Check them out here. NB: you can select eco-domestic shipping for orders with KITX, expected delivery 2-5 business days.
In the Beforetime, fashion designer Diane Lewis was making custom couture gowns in Alexandria. In March she pivoted to face masks, developing a triple-layer, washable and sustainable mask that covers 80 per cent of your face. The outer layer is bonded with and adhesive breathable fabric, filtering dust and protecting against outside vapour and moisture. These masks come in a range of fun prints, patterns and plain fabrics. You can order here, they deliver within 4-7 business days.
Sydney-based personal trainer Saiba Choy found herself picking up a needle and reverting to her previous career as a seamstress when gyms locked down in March. You can find her 100 per cotton, reusable face masks on Etsy. These masks come in a range of cute prints featuring the likes of lucky cats and foxes, and they're double layered and topstitched with a side gap for an insertable filter of your choice. NB: Shipping takes 1-2 weeks, healthcare professionals receive a free mask with every purchase.
These cotton masks are made and sewn in Sydney and are made to stop pollution, pollen and bacteria from filtering in or out. There are numerous colour combos to choose from as well. Check them out here.
This local fashion and accessory purveyor featuring distinctly Aussie illustrations and blindingly bright colours has jumped on the face mask bandwagon due to popular demand. You can get your mitts on prints that put smiles on faces, featuring pink galahs and Chiko rolls. You can order here, deliveries take about 3-4 business days.
If you're on the hunt for the practical rather than the fashionable in your protective gear, this Darlinghurst based start-up will have covered (literally) with their patented masks designed for outdoor workers and cyclists. The Outback Mask is designed for comfortable protection from the elements, with full face UV and insect protection, anti-fog sealing, and cooling fabric with an optional freezable gel pack to slip into the neck pouch. Check them out here, they ship six days a week from Sydney (with a carbon-neutral courier) and deliver within 3-5 business days.
These fashionable and comical masks come from a Sydney based company specialising in fabric signage, which pivoted to making face masks in a very 2020 side hustle. Select from adults and kids sizes and a range of prints, from moustaches and cat snouts to unicorns, or customise your own. Head here to place an order, deliveries are dispatched from Sydney within 3-4 business days.
This store with multiple locations in Sydney (The Galeries, World Square, Newtown, Chatswood and Macquarie Shopping Centre) is now selling triple-layered cloth face masks with funky designs by Australian artists. Check them out here.
Grab one of these washable and reusable cotton masks in a bunch of colourful patterns, including animal prints. Check them out here. NB: there is a 14-day delay on orders.
These masks are manufactured outside of Sydney, however they do deliver here, and we think they have a little something special about them.
In more usual times, this small business would be busily creating and shipping costumes for school productions around the country from its Ringwood workshop. With costuming needs on hold, Tracey Nuthall has pivoted her business to manufacturing specialised face masks with a clear window. The see-through panel allows hard of hearing people to lip-read, and is also useful for speech pathologists, carers, and all sorts of people working in service roles. These masks are triple-layered, hand washable and come in a range of colours and prints. Regular masks are also available. Check them out here. NB: Costumes Without Drama currently provides next-day dispatch from Melbourne.
This South Melbourne coffee purveyor is now selling face masks and snoods infused with copper and hemp, as well as hand sanitiser. Check them out here.
These protective face masks are made by Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung and Gamilaroi woman Madison Connors, founder and creative director of Yarli Creative. Forty per cent of all profits from these masks will be donated to the Elizabeth Morgan House, which is an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation that provides refuge accommodation and specialist family violence services to Aboriginal women and their children. Check them out here.
This Newcastle-based company specialises in making boardies from recycled plastic bottles. These masks come in adults and kids sizes in fun prints such as an eye-catching sausage sandwich design. There are three layers of protection: a polyester outer layer, an inner layer with a mix of cotton and silk for comfort and antibacterial properties, plus a removable filter. Check out these bad boys here.
Workwear supplier Cargo Crew have started taking pre-orders for their three-layer protective masks. These masks are made from 100 per cent breathable cotton and have a wire insert over the nose so it sits snug and you won’t fog up your glasses. Pre-order here.
This apparel brand centres the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from all over Australia, with a portion of profits being directed to Indigenous causes. They've come out with an expansive range of face masks featuring designs that take inspiration from traditional Indigenous art and native plants and animals. These masks don't only look good, they offer snug coverage around the mouth and chin and three layers of protection with a bamboo outer layer and two layers of soft cotton. Each mask comes with two complementary PM 2.5 activated carbon filters. Check them out here.
If you're willing to wait out the 4-6 week delivery window on these Aussie made masks, there is a very cute pay off: you can have them custom-printed with your pet's face! These triple-layered masks are made to Victorian DHHS guidelines and 25 per cent of profits go to Pound Paws, a charity which works to re-home pets in Australian pounds and rescue centres. Place an order here.