Protection or fashion — why not both? Local boutiques embrace shift in fashion

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Over the past months clothing stores across the U.S. have adapted to the changing world in the name of people’s well-being, and you guessed it — fashion.

Masks are becoming more than COVID-19 protection. Instead of donning N95 or the blue disposable masks, many people have chosen tasteful alternatives to pair with outfits.

Several storefronts in downtown Gainesville have altered their offerings for the pandemic, including Rahab’s Rope, Image Boutique and Purchase Effect.

Near the front of Image Boutique, masks of different patterns and colors are on display, ranging from $5 to $8. Kathryn Cuyler, the shop’s manager, said the business jumped on finding face covering suppliers as soon as they reopened in late April. She said finding a wholesaler with masks in stock proved tricky because of the demand. By May, the boutique began offering the hot items.

“We looked for a variety of stuff and different materials,” Cuyler said. “We made sure they are all adjustable.”

Connie Rock, owner of Purchase Effect on the square, also quickly acclimated to the shift in mask wear. As someone who keeps a close eye on trends, Rock said she knew her store needed to take a new direction. While her store was closed for around two months because of the pandemic, she searched for labels that not only sell fashionable face wear but make a positive difference in the world.

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