While musicians and athletes have made face-concealing headgear a ‘key style for 2022’, campaigners call it irresponsible.

Due to the association of the garments with attacks on women, a growing fashion trend in men’s balaclavas has been condemned.

Style writers have hailed the fashion for face-covering hair accessories as one of 2022’s key trends. It has been worn by many sports stars and musicians.

They were seen on the catwalk and on the high-street, with models by North Face, Adidas, and Puma.

Lyst, a fashion shopping platform, reported that searches for men’s headgear increased by 344% between 2021-2022. The website also recently selected Balaclava as the “hottest” product during the last quarter of 2021, based on data from Instagram, Google, and Depop. StockX reported that searches for balaclavas have increased more than fivefold in the past two months.

Some feminists and women’s rights organizations have criticized the trend as “inappropriate” or “irresponsible”, because balaclavas are long associated with crime, especially sexual attacks on women.

Carolyn Pearson, Maiden Voyage’s CEO, stated that “Eating out with someone in a balaclava is extremely distressing and concerning for women who are very vigilant about their personal safety.” Balaclavas have been associated with bad actors for a long time.

Madeleine Black, sexual violence activist and author of Unbroken, which details her survival of such experiences, said: “I would definitely associate balaclavas with violence and criminal activity and would feel very uncomfortable with men wearing them in my vicinity. It is a fashion faux pas that makes women feel less safe and vulnerable. I would be curious to know why the wearer hides his face.”

Jeanette Forder is a life coach and campaigner for women’s rights. She said that she was shocked by the trend: “Balaclavas should not be considered a fashionable accessory. They make it easier for men to commit crimes and escape detection. They can be intimidating for women. This is a disturbing trend. It’s amazing to me how reckless the fashion industry is.”

This trend started in 2018, when Vetements, a label that is well-known with Drake and Ye, began selling them.

The trend of driving with sunglasses on top of balaclavas has become a fad and has generated more than 152 million views.

Recent catwalk shows have seen them appear, including Jonathan Anderson at Loewe and Matthew Williams at 1017 Alyx 9SM. Ernest W Baker, Y/Project, Rick Owens, and Cortiez. Stella McCartney, a high-end designer, has her own version for PS295.

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