Henry Navarro Delgado, an associate professor at Canada’s Ryerson University, who is focused on fashion and visual culture, said face masks now serve a dual purpose: utility, in terms of safety and anonymity, as well as being a commentary on current events.

“This dystopian look, it is reflective of the times we are living in,” he said.

Masks have also become a global symbol of resistance to authority. Their use as a way to skirt ever-growing facial recognition systems is growing, particularly among anti-fascist groups, Delgado said.

“Anything you can put on your face to stop that process, that’s what makes it possible to go undetected,” Delgado said, making masks an effective, low-cost way to sidestep many facial recognition systems.