But these days, the 43-year-old has a different essential accessory: a mask.
Marquardt currently has 10 different styles of masks to choose from: one has pink unicorns, another says “Cool!” But his favorite is the one with his face.
“I’m usually a smiling person. I love interacting with people,” Marquardt told CNN. “But if you have to wear a mask, you are no longer so open. People cannot see your face. It is a way to show some (my personality), an open and fun person.”
He’s not the only one who has found a way to make wearing a mask look less uniform.
Now, all over the world, people no longer use only masks as protective equipment, but use them to make statements about their personality, their politics and their beliefs.
Masks to show off your personality
Just as clothes can say a lot about a person, masks can do it too.
Thousands of different models, colors and styles have appeared on sites like Etsy, demonstrating the growing interest in customizing masks in the time of the coronavirus.
The demand for creative masks is so high, now there is even a company that has formed its entire business model around them.
Masks suitable for the catwalk
No, these masks do not have the iconic Louis Vuitton logo or the Burberry checked pattern. I am strictly for function. But this did not prevent fashion lovers from re-proposing their luxury goods in masks.
Take a look at Instagram and you will see hundreds of photos of people wearing masks with Gucci, Supreme, Louis Vuitton and others motifs.
“I feel like I’m wearing it every day, I see it as an accessory,” Colby told CNN. “Whatever you wear that day, you want it to go with whatever you have. (When I wear my custom mask) I think it says, it has good style, it has good taste.”
Colby noted that masks were a fashionable item in Asia long before the coronavirus pandemic. It’s rare to see a K-pop star who doesn’t wear a mask as part of his “airport fashion” look.
Al-Zakleh, a 29 year old from Amman, Jordan, sells masks covered with Swarovski crystals.
“They loved it and considered it a way to protect themselves in style,” al-Zakleh told CNN.
Celebrities and influencers were photographed wearing them, he said.
Masks that help to return
Many companies have pivoted their strategy to make sure they have masks as part of their customer offerings.
That’s why some are trying to return to their communities by donating masks or proceeds from their mask sales.
Having grown up in Kibera, Avido knew all too well that people there didn’t have the means to protect themselves from the virus.
“Most people who live in the slums live on the day and maybe $ 3 US dollars are paid in one day,” Avido told CNN. “I am unable to purchase hand sanitizer or a mask while at the same time trying to buy food for their family.”
So the 24 year old, known for having designed bright clothes made with African wax prints, turned his attention to the creation of masks and their donation to his community.
“My face masks allow people to show their personality and style while staying protected,” Avido told CNN. “Yes, you have to accept what’s going on with the pandemic, but at the end of the day, life doesn’t stop and people have to maintain their personalities at a time like this.”
Other major brands have also started making sales of their masks go to Covid-19’s relief efforts.
Masks as political statements
But for those who decide to follow the recommendation of the US Centers for Disease Control, there are masks designed to show every political belief.
Etsy has “Trump 2020” masks, Joe Biden face masks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg face masks and many other offerings in the same vein.
Alex Posen, the company’s co-founder, said he initially created the mask as a way of protecting herself and her family during the pandemic.
But when Posen received an overwhelmingly positive response to the project, she and Dahna Goldstein, her co-founder, decided to make them available to the public. The mask has an appropriate price of $ 20.20.
“It’s a new piece of clothing that literally covers your mouth, where your voice comes from,” said Posen. “Putting a political message on the mouth is an extremely powerful message.”
Since offering them last month, nearly 10,000 masks have been sold, worn by the likes of former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
“The mask is the new shirt,” said Goldstein. “When people go to a protest or try to have their opinions on things, they wear shirts or hats or wear signs, but at the moment we are unable to protest. So when people get their voting masks and post selfies online, it is a manifestation of the desire to have that type of voice and political and social expression in the ways we can at the moment “.
While the coronavirus could have put the upcoming elections behind people’s minds, Posen and Goldstein said they hoped their masks would remind people of how crucial it is for them to vote.
“It is imperative that everyone vote,” said Posen, “and it is also imperative that everyone can vote safely.”
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