Following new guidance that residents should be wearing face masks whenever they leave the house, many clothing brands have begun producing protective gear, leaving L.A.’s most fashionable eager to snag a mask from their favorite brands at any cost.
Among the most desirable face masks is a $600 limited edition mask reportedly put out by streetwear brand Supreme. “It’s just so dope, I saw it online and knew I just had to have it,” said Brandon Lieu as he waited among hundreds in an hourslong line in front of the Company’s Fairfax store. “Everyone knows it’s important to protect yourself from Rona,” said the 22-year-old UCLA junior, “but it’s just as important to look good.”
The Avocado arrived on Fairfax and saw a long-line of vaping hypebeasts waiting to buy a mask. As a 30-something hypochondriac who has worn the same guacamole stained cargo shorts for the last three-weeks under quarantine I was concerned about being among people and also generally confused by the seeming loyalty to the Supreme brand, but agreed to take the assignment because I wanted to pick up a Reuben from Canter’s and didn’t want to pay an $8 Postmate fee.
As I waited in line and talked to the men and women eager to spend hundreds of dollars on a branded mask I noticed that the transactions were not occurring inside the store. Rather, the merchandise was being sold at the end of the block by two young men selling masks out of several cardboard boxes. I asked Vivianne, a 32-year-old out-of-work choreographer why the masks were being sold outside, to which the woman muttered something about how it would be unsafe during a pandemic to make the sale in a confined space before surreptitiously taking a picture of me in my guacamole shorts and posting on Twitter about how it’s so hard to stand in line for medical supplies without being harassed by “a barrage of corned beef eating Jews.” I was offended by the characterization but was eating a sandwich when I spoke to her and do look very stereotypically Jewish, so I tried not to get too upset.
As I waited in line nearly two hours to reach the end of the block my tummy began to hurt from the sandwich and I also started feeling flush and developing shortness of breath. As I started to wonder out loud whether I had Coronavirus a 43-year-old standing nearby told me that my symptoms were more than likely anxiety and that I should “hit this” vape pen. Feeling a bit of peer pressure on account that this man was better looking and taller than me, I agreed, but almost immediately regretted that decision when that man, a self-described “libertarian”, began telling everyone around him that Coronavirus was being way overblown by the media and wasn’t anything to be concerned about.
“If you believe that, then why are you waiting in line to get a face mask?” I asked, already very high at this point. The man laughed and said that he was just buying the mask so he could sell it online later. “These things will fetch $1000, sometimes more, online,” he said. “Good ol’ free market.”
After nearly four hours, I finally made it to the men at the end of the block and it was immediately clear that these masks were not officially sanctioned Supreme merchandise, but rather cheap leggings cut and then hastily imprinted with the Supreme logo. “Are these certified to block germs?” I asked one of the boys of the thin material mask. “I don’t think these will be effective,” I said, to which the salesperson replied “they’re better than nothing, probably” and handed me a mix-tape featuring him rapping which he said comes with the mask.
After making the purchase, which I assume I will be reimbursed for [Editor’s Note: He will not.], I put the mask on and began to walk back to my car. This was the most expensive article of clothing or medical equipment I owned, and for the first time, I understood the appeal of wearing a highly desirable piece of clothing. It made me feel like I was worth more. Like I was special.
As I walked down Fairfax I saw people stare at my mask and, in fact, was approached by several people who offered to buy the mask right then and there. Feeling a confidence I had never felt before, I declined, telling the would-be purchasers that there would be no price I would be willing to sell my mask. “It’s worth much more than face value,” I laughed, believing myself to be very clever, but the purchaser just said “whatever” and purchased one of the knock-off masks from that libertarian a few moments later.
As I sat in the hospital the next week, fired for spending $600 without company permission and also with pnemonia on account that the fake Supreme mask was not at all effective in stopping the Coronavirus, I continued to wear the mask, still feeling more confident than I had in years; certainly since at least the day that I left my Yeshiva. “I want to be burried in this mask,” I told my mother over Facetime as she said goodbye to me. And indeed, one week later, I was.