With the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic and attempts worldwide to flatten the curve, wearing a face mask can help avoid the spread of disease but let’s face it, they’re not the most attractive thing to put on your face – until now, that is.
UK company Binge Designs, who has been creating eye-catching apparel and accessories featuring pop culture icons, including the queens of Drag Race UK, Coco Peru, The Spice Girls, the ladies of Ab Fab and more is now offering face masks that you’ll want to wear.
The line features tributes to Valentina’s infamous line “I’d like to keep it on please”, Pearl’s “Is there something on my face?” and, of course, there’s a mask that says “Sashay Away”.
The designs also include tributes to classic cult films like Grease 2 and Death Becomes Her and lots of Pride-themed creations. Best of all, profits from the masks are donated to the UK’s National Health Service.
Binge owner Jules said he is happy to “add a little light to a pretty dark situation” and discussed the masks with Socialite Life. We also got a chance to learn more about this innovative artist and designer with the Socialite Seven.
How did you get into the mask business?
I have been running Binge for the last 5 years and have specialized in fashion inspired by various bits of camp pop culture: from Showgirls, Mommie Dearest and Clue to official collabs with the girls from Drag Race UK and the legend that is Miss Coco Peru.
I only launched my masks about three weeks ago because I was frustrated at a) people not wearing them and b) because the designs out there were either twee or boring. If we have to wear a mask, then shouldn’t it be fashionable and raise a smile? I first adapted some of my existing tee designs into patterns that would work as a face covering and it sort of spiraled as it started to catch fire on social media.
Lockdown but Make it FABULOUS became my motto. I believe that by me wearing a mask, I’m protecting others, and by them wearing a mask we’re all protecting each other.
Obviously the “mask market” is suddenly booming (who’d have thought I’d be saying that this time last year?) and there are a lot of different styles out there but I’d like to think that mine have a bit of added fabulous. What’s also been wonderful is I’ve been able to make the masks available for kids.
Going forward I do believe that masks will be a way of life for a long time and getting children to wear them is always going to be tricky, but by giving them something bright and colourful they seem to WANT to wear them.
As an LGBTQ designer and business owner I also felt is was important to give the community representation, so I have expanded my Pride range with the traditional rainbow but also Trans pride flag. I think this is especially vital this year as so many Pride events will have to be canceled.
How did you pick NHS as the recipient of your profits/donations?
Choosing to support the NHS in the UK (via https://www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk/) was a no brainer for me when it came to donating the profits from the masks. Our National Health Service has been done an injustice for years and the key-workers who have been risking their lives during this pandemic have gone above and beyond. I wanted to do something more than just clap for them every Thursday night outside my front door, I wanted to actually help them and show my support to their incredible value in our society. NHS Charities Together supports the key workers and also the patients and families affected by Covid-19. I have also run campaigns that donate to Terrance Higgins Trust, The Albert Kennedy Trust and Mermaids.
What is your favorite design? Which ones are the top sellers?
My favourite design has to be “Can I Keep It On Please” because it makes me smile every time I see someone wearing it. Even if you don’t subscribe religiously to Drag Race like me, it has a dual meaning. My other favourite is one inspired by Marlene Dietrich which is based on a series of portraits I recently did of Hollywood Greats. The most popular have been the “Pride” and “Yaas Queen” masks – what can I say – I have a distinct and fabulous customer base!
Any new mask designs upcoming?
I’m adding designs all the time, some are requests from social media and some are originals so keep checking back, you never know what I’m going to add!
What’s next for Binge, aside from masks?
What’s next for Binge? Well we barely know what’s going to happen next week but going forward I’m going to keep designing new tees, masks, homeware, anything that’s going to make someone smile when they put it on. The dream is to one day work with the Queen of all Queens RuPaul to design some official merch for him – you’ve gotta dream right?
Jules answers our quarantine edition of the Socialite Seven:
How are you doing during the quarantine?
It’s been tough for everyone but I’m lucky that I haven’t had to adapt to working at home as that’s what I already do. Missing family and friends has been the hardest. I’ve not seen my best friend since February.
What do you miss the most?
Definitely friends and family, but theatre, cinema, gigs also are pretty high on the list. What this is doing to the arts is devastating.
What are you watching or binging right now?
I powered through Normal People on BBC/Hulu in 3 days. I wanted to take longer to savour it but I just couldn’t resist. Modern Love on Amazon is also brilliant, but it makes me cry too much.
What’s keeping you sane?
Luckily I’ve been so busy with work I’ve been distracted but the good weather has been amazing. Can you imagine if we’d also had 7 weeks of rain?
What are your go-to quarantine snacks?
I’m trying to be good and not snack (I’ve already put on too many pounds) but you might have to pry a bag of popcorn out of my hand at 11pm….
Have you discovered anything about yourself while on lockdown?
I’ve discovered that I will never pretend to have plans in order to stay in on a Saturday night and not go to something I’ve been invited to.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when all of this is over?
Give my mum a massive hug.