China: Through the Breathing Mask is my Senior Studio project that I worked on during my last semester at RISD.  The goal of the project is to introduce everyone to a pressing issue in China- as well as how fashion might be one of the solutions to the problem. Earlier this year at the MET Gala held in New York City, we witnessed fashion designers and celebrities show off their elaborate red carpet garments and accessories that were inspired by the theme of the new MET exhibit, China- Through the looking glass. While fashion designers are looking to ancient China for stylistic inspiration, present day China may need some help from these very people to tackle a serious nationwide struggle related to air pollution. 

After research and consideration of the complexity of the issue, I chose develop a collection wearable device because of its benefits in mobility, expression, and also strived to improve on the existing mask products that are already in the Chinese market. This though ominous emerging market, is a completely new territory where innovation can occur and lives can be saved.

ABOUT

GEM is a lifestyle accessory brand that aims to deliver the most beautiful, highest efficiency, most comfortable and reusable fashion masks on the market to out style conscious customers located in Asia and around the Globe.

The form of GEM masks are inspired by precious gem stone cuts. The clear masks allow the users facial features to be shown while the bands are designed to compliment the face.

In this catalog are the designs from our very first collection inspired by nature. Patterns taken from feathers, butterfly wings, exotic skins and delicate cell structures have been transformed into 6 mask bands that are unique in material and process. 

The masks are effective against pm10, pm 2.5 and other airborne contaminants and allergens.

Social responsibility is an integral part of the company. With every GEM purchase, we will provide one child in a low income family with a years worth of basic N95 pollution masks.

Stay positive, stay stylish and let’s work together towards a clearer future. 

 

RESEARCH AND PROCESS

Lately in China, it's been a little difficult to breath. This is caused by the mixture of ground-level ozone along with the microscopic toxic particles (particulate matter 2.5) floating around in the air, forming a dense layer of so called "smog". When a person breathes in polluted air, these toxic particles makes their way through the walls of the alveoli and enter directly into the bloodstream.

World Health Organization's standard pm2.5 count is 25 µg/m3.  During 2013 the pm2.5 rate of Beijing was average of 89.5 µg/m3- highest peaking to above 800 µg/m3. In context this is equivalent to a "Nuclear Winter" affecting the entire country. since 2008, there has only been 2 days in which the count exceeded "good".


Smog has been the cause for more than 1 million death cases in China in recent years. For cases that do not result in death, it can still cause long term damage to the respiratory system  (inflammation and increasing chance of lung cancer by 345%), can trigger heart disease, and also does damage to the cardiovascular and reproductive systems

A recent documentary named Under the Dome had stated that for China to reach the 25 micrograms per m3 standard will take more than 15 years-  due to difficulties in regulating policies relating to industrial pollution, the rise in car ownership, the use of poor quality coal amongst lower income families as well as a lack of green area within cities. Even though the government has stated they are working towards a solution, smog will surely be sticking around for a while, and it has been strongly recommended that people wear smog masks when they move about to prevent long term damage to health.

you may think that with these threats and warnings people in China will voluntarily wear masks to protect themselves. However that is not always the case.