In the year of 2020, the face mask has become a staple article of clothing, not just out of necessity in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but as a fashion statement. As the face mask becomes normalized for everyday use, we see more and more people looking to upgrade their old masks with a new stylish one.
Trenton entrepreneur and fashion designer Andre McNair has geared his passion for fashion towards the popular need for designer face masks. Already ahead of the time, McNair told TrentonDaily in August that he was interested in creating masks for the sole purpose of style two years ago. However, with the rise of COVID-19, he quickly learned that his face mask designs are necessary now more than ever.
“I went full time with my business on my own before and it didn’t really work out,” said McNair. “But this time, I’m pretty sure this is my niche. This is what I should be doing to help out a lot of people.”
During the initial outbreak of the global pandemic, McNair’s business Octobers Vintage skyrocketed in orders. Local businesses in the area such as Starbucks and McDonalds were bulk ordering company logos to be placed on masks. Trenton’s own Mayor Reed Gusciora received a mask made by McNair along with Governor Phil Murphy of NJ.
“The one I made for Governor Phil… that was probably my favorite,” said McNair. “He gave me a shout out on the COVID-19 daily wrap-up that he did and that made me feel really good.”
At Greater Trenton’s 3rd Annual Caren Franzini Capital City Award Celebration on December 8th, Greater Trenton staff along with committee members, and even Honoree Anthony “Skip” Cimino, masked up with McNair’s “Greater Trenton” branded design.
Another one of McNair’s favorite masks, and one of his proudest moments, was the mask he made for the Ambassador of Taiwan. Himself, along with his brother and Mayor Gusciora, went to the embassy in NY to present the ambassador with her order.
“I presented her two customized face masks and basically just talks about how COVID-19 affected Taiwan as opposed to how it affects America and things like that,” said McNair. “That is something major that I did.”
McNair has also been supporting local businesses and groups within the city of Trenton. According to McNair, he gets a lot of orders for gatherings, including orders from Teska Frisby and the Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence in NJ.
Between donations and sales, McNair has supplied over 1,000 custom masks since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “That’s all I can think about,” said McNair. “I like dream of masks!”
McNair never anticipated on face masks becoming his primary design focus. As a designer, he has a passion for creating jean jackets, hoodies and hats as well. However, with the current state of global health, McNair realizes that face masks are what will predominately sell through his company.
He said, “I still have those particular add on that people are able to get. I still do a lot of customized hoodies [and] hats…those are usually all a combination. People usually buy all three or they’ll buy a hat and a face mask.”
He continued, “The face mask is obviously the biggest thing with what is going on in the world.”
With current revelations being made towards COVID-19 vaccinations, it is uncertain how long face masks will be a required clothing accessory for the general public. However, McNair is prepared to adjust his fashion designs based upon the needs and desires of the community in which he supports.
“I think I’ll be fine,” said McNair. “I’ll find something else to customize. I can do hoodies, I could do t-shirts, I could do almost anything. This is basically just a stepping stone on to everything else.”