Masks figure prominently in 2020 Cashmere Collection ball

Face masks have become a fashion statement, so naturally the CPG brand is bringing them to its couture runway.

Screen Shot 2020-07-13 at 10.48.05 AMDespite the pandemic, the Cashmere Collection Masquerade Ball will return for its 17th year in the fall, but with a virtual component.

As always, Canadians will see Cashmere tissue products on display, as bathroom couture ball-gowns from 15 Canadian fashion designers will be showcased. However, there will be a new addition to the line this year: 16th century Venetian-inspired face masks.

The bathroom tissue brand’s marketing team and partners established the premise for this year’s Masquerade Ball last fall, well before there were any rumblings of COVID-19. The importance of face masks has been augmented within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as such items can decrease the risk of transmission of the virus. In its own way, the brand decided to include coverings that riff on the Venetian ball theme.

“If you think about it, masks were once meant as a symbol of mystery and intrigue,” says Susan Irving, CMO at Kruger Products, maker of the Cashmere brand. “They’ve now really emerged as a symbol of safety and saving lives. Everywhere, there’s a push for everyone to wear masks if they can’t practice physical distancing.”

Similar to its gowns, the masks will be intricately-designed – ranging from those with beaks and feathers, to Venetian-era carnival masks. The mask theme also taps into the current trend of people wearing personalized masks that fit their interests or tastes, from those that match outfits to ones with sports team’s logos or video game characters and even maps of countries.

“It started off with people wearing medical masks, but now… it’s really turned into a fashion statement,” Irving says.

The brand is aiming to have the show (which will raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society and was put together by partners Bell Media, John St. and Strategic Objectives) take place virtually on September 29 in the lead up to Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. However, Irving notes while the event will be captured at the Globe & Mail’s offices in Toronto without an audience, that could change depending on which phase Toronto is in at the time of the event.

Irving adds that, like most companies, the pandemic has shifted Kruger’s marketing strategy for 2020.

Kruger saw a significant uptick in demand during the early stage of the pandemic, especially for bathroom tissue, challenging the company to manage an unpredictable supply chain. Lessons from the panic buying period led the company to focus on a new core message for the reminder of the year: namely, “letting Canadians know Cashmere is there for them” and that its products will be available even if a second wave were to come.