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Tilly makes face masks fashionable

The fashion industry has taken a massive hit with the onset of COVID-19, forcing the cancellation of high-profile industry events and the closure of many retail brick and mortar stores. But for fashion design student Chantelle Rhodes it's also brought on a new opportunity to manufacture triple-layer cotton face masks.

Although fashion retail is an uncertain industry right now, the desire for fashion to fit our societal needs is rapidly becoming clear, with inspiring stories of people from the fashion industry using their talents and creativity to help others.

Among them is TAFE Queensland Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Merchandising (MST50116) student Chantelle Rhodes who, along with her sewing machine, is manufacturing triple-layer cotton face masks.

“With all the warnings and precautions surrounding COVID-19 in South East Queensland, Melbourne and Sydney in 2019 I thought it was a good time to start making some cute masks,” says Chantelle.

“I posted four styles up on my social media account, so my followers could choose what they liked and add a bit of sparkle to their day."

Face masks are now a part of everyday life to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In some parts of the world, they’re either recommended or compulsory in public places and in situations where physical distancing isn’t possible.

However, wearing masks can prevent people from communicating through their facial expressions, so Chantelle was conscious to create her masks as a way their wearers could show off their personalities.

“If you can’t smile at someone, you at least want to wear something that people can look at and see a glimpse of your personality," continued Chantelle.

Janelle Rayner, Discipline Group Manager, Creative Practices, Creative Arts and Digital Design says that in times of uncertainty we shouldn’t underestimate the ability of the creative industry to encourage change, help others and inspire hope.

“Fashion has historically played a role in representing the time and society in which it was created, and 2020 is the year of the face mask,” says Janelle.

“We strongly believe in fashion as a medium or a tool of social responsibility that can improve lives in many positive ways.

“So if wearing a face mask that has a pattern that expresses your personality, is a fun colour or is made from an interesting is going to encourage you more to wear it more often, then go for it!” concludes Janelle.