You want the best. And heck, you deserve the best. But there's a lot of choice out there, and sometimes the best is hard to find. Fortunately, we know where to find it. Every week, the Esquire editors reveal their favourite brands, from under-the-radar steals to luxury loves, so you can invest in the best clothes, watches and accessories that money can buy.
This week, the necessity we never thought we'd need: face masks.
Finlay Renwick, Deputy Style Editor
"I had, until recently, been a staunch advocate of the surgical mask as the superior face covering during the pandemic. Cotton masks tended to be too thick, causing me to gasp for air on the 327 (not a good look). If they’re good enough for doctors, I surmised, they’re good enough for me, but then I discovered the AIRism, and I said ‘Sorry, doctors, I’m out!’
"Made from a tactile mix of nylon, polyester and spandex, the Uniqlo AIRism features a clever three-tier design. The first is breathable, the second filters out particles and the final layer rounds it all off with AIRism mesh for comfort and even more breathability. They come in a pack of three for less than a tenner, are washable and easily the most comfortable mask I’ve worn. A word of advice hewn from personal experience, the white ones do sort of make you look like you’re wearing a pair of pants on your face (to each their own), but the black version is a winner!"
Dan Choppen, Fashion Assistant
"Everlane, a brand leading the way in modern day stylish essentials, have created another essential. It’s a serious time, but the brand's playful tie-dye reusable non-medical mask is a fun(ish) way to stay safe. Made from a double-layered knitted cotton and elastic ear loops with a touch of stretch for extra comfort, this mask is as sustainable.
"Even better, for every 100% Human product sold, Everlane will donate 10 per cent to the ACLU (shorthand for the American Civil Liberties Union), which has been fighting to protect fundamental freedoms in the US for the past 100 years. To date, Everlane have donated over $650,000."
Charlie Teasdale, Style Director
"First of all, it seems mad to be writing this… but my favourite face mask right now is from Sunspel. I tried one of the 3D-knitted ones, but found it too hot, and it caught on my stubble.
"I’ve been using the new Sunspel mask for a week or so now and it’s great. Soft, breathable cotton with an antibacterial lining, and big enough to wrap right around the chin and over the nose."
Murray Clark, Digital Style Editor
"I need to be honest. Don't worry, I'm not an anti-masker or anything. But, in these really quite awful times, I don't believe medical equipment that stops me killing my grandmother should be branded. Some things are better without a big name logo. That doesn't make a face mask any less essential, though. So in that respect, I'd rather use my pound coins to a) protect nan, and others and b) to help businesses that help others during the pandemic.
"For every face mask bought, customisation brand Casetify is donating one more to Direct Relief: a nonprofit, nonpartisan organisation that aims to improve the lives of those in poverty. Protective gear isn't always so easy to come by in the developing world, and if Covid-19 has taught us anything, it's that a global effort is essential for tackling a global problem."
Marks & Spencer
Tom Banham, Digital Editor
"The actual best face masks on earth are made by my mother-in-law. She hand-sews them from upcycled fabrics – I've got one in Japanese kimono cloth; another in old sofa material – and they're double-lined, with adjustable earstraps. But you can't have one of those, I'm afraid. So the second-best face masks, which the actual man-on-the-coronavirus-riddled-street can buy, come from Marks & Spencer.
"M&S's face masks are two-ply, adjustable and come with an antibacterial coating that will last up to 40 washes (you're missing a trick there, Judith). They're also big enough to cover your nose and chin without smothering you, which means you won't be sneezing your germs all over the people stood behind you in the supermarket queue."
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