Although a mask has become a visual signifier of the Covid-19 pandemic, for Wang it is not just a sign of sickness. “It can be adopted as a prosthetic augmentation of identity for youth, and a defensive shield to dissuade public interaction,” the designer says. “The mask is like a subculture, and it’s spreading the word.”
Wang first thought of creating a sneaker mask on his evening run in Beijing. “I wanted to design a mask for myself which could combine both aesthetics and utility,” he explains. Turning to his impressive sneaker collection, Wang noticed that “most of the upper material of the sneaker is light-weight, durable and breathable,” a perfect combination for a mask that could not only protect but protest against increasing environmental issues that threaten our planet. “My sneaker masks are about letting the young generation rethink the relationship between the mask and the environment in different ways, awakening people to make some changes,” he says. Today, the designer discusses his repurposed sneaker masks, why wearing a mask is a temporary solution and how everyone can make masks.