Designer Chris Gelinas, who is a former finalist in the first LVMH Young Fashion Designers prize and has had design roles at Marc Jacobs and Balenciaga, has teamed up with KleenWraps to create the perfect face mask. He tells us what sets this apart in a world brimming with mask options and why this project fulfilled him creatively.
You spent over three months developing this mask. What makes it so special?
Yes, it was an intense and dedicated three months and pro-active way to be in quarantine. I never want to put anything into the world that isn’t the best, and I can assuredly say the KleenWraps mask is the best. To sound a bit technical, the fabric I designed is a custom open cell thin neoprene bonded to a quick dry microfiber. Basically it gives our mask a good ergonomic fit and is soft to the face as to not itch or irritate the skin, which I find many masks do. The other thing is I had to stay as active as possible throughout quarantine for my own sanity—running, working out at home or outside once the weather started to warm up. My keeping active helped in designing an active use mask. There is no better fitness-focused mask out there than KleenWraps. Whether you’re running errands or running miles this is by far the most comforted and effective mask out there.
How did you do your research?
My approach was to first create that specialized noeprene to make the mask, and, also test as many existing masks as we could at the same time. Textile development is something I have spent my design career focusing on, so I began with mills testing and sourcing neoprenes and quick-dry knits to bond with it, while my team went through dozens of different masks to see what was working and what wasn’t.
A lot of people complain that they have trouble breathing in their masks. What makes this one comfortable?
Ensuring breathability while still offering droplet protection is the holy grail of mask design. Our thin neoprene offers the best droplet protection, better than any woven alternative on the market. It’s three technical layers: a perforated panel to allow for air flow, a filtered layer and a third lighter weight lining layer to eliminate any droplet passage. It’s snug to the face without being tight and goes ever the ears with an adjustable elastic band.
How did you get involved with this kind of project?
Russell Silver-Fagan, and his mother Elizabeth, KleenWraps co-founders, approached me about the project in March, at a moment when we were just beginning to quarantine when we all were scared and just beginning to understand the severity of COVID-19 not knowing how it would impact the world, as we do today. Designing the mask the opportunity to shift my focus from aspirational design to something critical and impactful. It put my energy toward affordable and accessible products aimed at protecting people.
How much does it retail for?
How will it be available?
On the KleenWraps website at the start of November and available for pre-order off the site.
What’s the best way to clean it?
All KleenWraps products are designed to be reusable to help the environment and our wallets. This mask can be hand-washed or machine- washed in our protective mesh pouch and then air-dried.
What else have you been working on?
KleenWraps has been my main focus since I started in March. It came at a moment when I was really questioning the relevance of aspirational design so to focus on something essential and accessible has been really fulfilling creatively. Though this major shift in the industry has also got me thinking about my own brand and how something small and thoughtful could have a real place again in fashion. I think less industry barriers means so many more exciting possibilities.