Supermodel Natalia Vodianova creates Masuku One high protection super-stylish face mask made in Rotherham

Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova has teamed up with a British-German design company to manufacture in South Yorkshire a new style of breathable, high-protection and fashion-friendly face mask. Stephanie Smith reports.

Natalia Vodianova wears the Masuku One face mask which also comes in black.

The new Masuku face mask brand is a joint venture between Vodianova and Berlin and London-based design company Pentatonic, which has a dedicated site in Hellaby, near Rotherham, for the mass production of the sustainable, breathable, nano-filtration products.

Masuku One has been designed to give high breathability as well as high protection from particles in the air including airborne pathogens, allergens and pollutants, using a combination of filtration technologies developed in-house in Hellaby and now manufactured there. It uses fibres a thousand times finer than a human hair.

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Masuku borrows the name for mask from the Japanese, where mask-wearing has long been seen as a sign of respect and courtesy for collective heath. Vodianova was inspired to create a mask, which comes in orange and black, after a trip to Japan and now wants to help people everywhere breathe cleaner air. The product has been in development for four years, long before the pandemic struck.

The Masuku One, made at Hellaby near Rotherham.

The mask’s mesh fabric cover is made from recycled performance polymer, which is heat-pressed and fuses to the soft guard fabric that is closest to the skin. Rather than using stitches or glue, ultrasonic welding has been used so the outer layer can be recycled. The ear-loops are also made from recycled materials, and the rest comprises bio-based or recyclable materials.

As Masuku founding partner, Natalia Vodianova said: “The air we breathe affects every organ and cell in our bodies, and air quality is of critical importance to both human health and the environment. When we started the project in 2016, we knew that developing a highly sophisticated air filtration was pointless if not fully sustainable at the core. Today our masks offer a truly safe and comfortable breathing experience, with no impact on the planet. I sincerely hope, in the future, masks will not be needed. Until then, we want Masuku to be the most technological and sustainable option to breathe clean air, while respecting it.”

Co-founder Pentatonic’s CEO Johann Boedecker said technicians and designers had to redesign and reimagine what was possible many times over to develop the mask. "We have invested significant time and resources perfecting the creation of a mask that has better filtration, more breathability and unparalleled comfort and style. Our range of masks will protect you from airborne pathogens, allergens and pollutants, all without damaging the environment as other solutions do. This product is so advanced it avoids any compromises between comfort and function. We will be harnessing this technology to launch a whole range of masks in the near future.”

Pentatonic said the Hellaby site was chosen after scouring Europe for the best site and location, adding the technologies and manufacturing practices needed were not already available anywhere else. Known as the AirLab, it will also begin producing Masuku Daily, a sustainable, single-use range of masks, this month.

The company says the risk of air quality related diseases is higher than ever before. Pathogens, allergens such as pollen and poor air quality are a concern to human health, specifically for those who live in cities and urban areas.

* The Masuku One face mask costs £49 (or £22 as a monthly subscription) from Masuku.com. It comes in orange,