Prabal Gurung is getting into the face mask business. Today, the celebrated designer launched iMPOWER, a new lifestyle line rooted in philanthropy and giving back to the community. The debut collection features several face masks in vivid prints that embody Gurung’s signature eye-catching aesthetic. He crafted designs that would easily pair with any of his striking runway looks, which often incorporate whimsical patterns and dreamy palettes.
“I chose the four beautiful and vibrant prints you see in this first collection, as I wanted to create something that would evoke joy but still feel impactful,” he tells Bustle. “These prints each tell such a unique story and feel really strong. I wanted the wearer to feel like they were armed for the day, and ready to take on the world.”
With that goal in mind, it makes sense that Gurung would name the line "iMPOWER." Through the spelling, a play on the phrase "I'm power," he hoped to conjure up feelings of confidence and security, especially in a year filled with so much heaviness and uncertainty.
“The name iMPOWER comes from the word empower, which is an affirmation of the heights you can achieve when strength and fortitude starts from within,” he explains. “I wanted this to remind everyone that their voice, their actions, and their contributions matter. No matter what age, race, gender, sexual orientation you identify with, you have the power to make a change in this world.”
To help facilitate that change, Gurung is tying in a philanthropic component to each iMPOWER collection. Proceeds from the debut offering of face masks, which are shoppable right now on Walmart.com, will be donated to the CDC Foundation.
Those donations will help support the Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund, which goes toward medical supplies, increasing lab capacity, deploying emergency staffing to U.S. public health agencies, providing support to vulnerable communities, and more.
“I wanted to create something that would inspire optimism and action during what has been an unprecedented and difficult time,” says Gurung. “My focus with iMPOWER is to create collections that feel accessible and that will build a sense of community. That is something we are all craving now more than ever.”
Even with all the challenges the fashion industry faces in a pandemic, Gurung is hopeful about the future — if brands can learn to adapt. “This is the moment for us to all challenge the status quo of the industry, toss out the norms, and rethink the way we do business," he says. "The key to success in the future of fashion is going to be the ability to adapt, be nimble, and approach change with humility, grace, and a proactive nature.”
Like many other designers, he opted out of showing a new collection at New York Fashion Week this season due to the complicated logistics of producing a runway show in the middle of this ongoing crisis. However, Gurung says that the pandemic has presented him with an opportunity to reevaluate his role in the industry moving forward.
“I am looking forward to finding unique and experiential ways to present upcoming collections, and the next time I show will be when I have something really important to say,” he shares. “This new normal has opened the door to accessing a deeper creative spirit that allows us to think outside of the traditional space. I feel such a strong desire, perhaps now more than ever, to present myself to the world as my most authentic and unapologetic self.”