A man in Johannesburg is having to respond to a barrage of viral responses after he posted online about his idea to make a leather face mask.
"No breathing, just vibes," one massive tweet joked.
Sentletse Diakanyo is a luxury furniture designer. He is very serious about selling these designer masks from leftover couch material.
"People want something different," he told BuzzFeed News.
He also thinks it's no laughing matter.
"I always have leather and fabric off-cuts from the furniture upholstery which I don’t use and face masks became the obvious product to use them for given the demand at the moment," Diakanyo said.
But his design announcement on Twitter unfortunately backfired immediately on Tuesday. People were like, "But what about breathing?"
Others presented a counterpoint: While breathing is somewhat important, what's more important than having style?
The memes have not really stopped.
In response, Diakanyo said his leather face masks will "allow ease of breathing," and he's also planning to include some kind of filtration fabric layer.
"It will have cotton lining inside and perforation. It’s not hot at all and easy to breathe in [compared to] some cloth faces masks I’ve tried. Besides, we’re heading into winter in South Africa," he added.
Until he perfects them for "breathing," his leather masks will not be available for sale just yet.
He's not the only one trying to capitalize on pandemic mandates in the name of high fashun. Over the last week, more and more people are questioning both the ethics and utility of designer leather face masks.
Some are being sold for $89, and upwards of hundreds of dollars, like this Louis Vuitton one.
While the CDC provides no specific information about the effectiveness or safety of wearing premium leather masks, they have endorsed cloth masks as a viable alternative to non-medical-grade coverings.
Dr. E. Scott Geller, a Virginia Tech behavioral psychologist who's studied the psychology of safety for frontline healthcare workers, told BuzzFeed News that he can't comment on how safe leather is to protect yourself and others from the spread of the coronavirus. However, he said it is a "nice" attempt to get more people to wear any face coverings — even if it's only in the name of fashion.
"I do find the innovative masks creative and a nice attempt to enter a burgeoning market. However, the effectiveness of these masks must be evaluated first," said Geller. "Surely there must be an official approval process for a personal protective product before it is made available."
Geller added the trend could also possibly be a result of some of the messaging coming from the White House.
"Perhaps Trump’s promotion of certain medical treatment for COVID-19 has set a new standard: 'anything goes if it sounds or looks good.' Trump’s apparent inattention to science has perhaps motivated the production of products that do not need to work, but just look good," Geller added.
To be fair, the mask does look good and very Yeezy. But if you don't have hundreds of dollars of expendable income for one face mask, cloth masks are CDC-approved.
People were just thankful to Diakanyo for giving them a new meme. Breathing is fleeting, drip is forever.