World No.10 Naomi Osaka and her elder sister Mari have partnered with UNICEF to create a facemask that is available for purchase, with proceeds assisting disadvantaged youth in their native Japan.

“I was seeing everyone in the U.S. wearing the same medical mask, and I remember in Japan even before this whole situation happened, everyone was wearing masks and they were quite fashionable,” Naomi told Vogue magazine in an exclusive interview announcing the project.

“So I wanted to release a mask that wasn’t just for protection, but could also be used as a fashion statement.”

The two-time Grand Slam champion recruited her elder sister Mari, and the duo set about exploring their creative talents.  The design of the mask, which features a pair of cartoon animal eyes, was inspired by the sisters’ love for animated cartoons, as well as their heritage on their mother’s side.

The charity initiative is the Osakas’ latest foray into fashion and apparel design. In February, Naomi debuted her first collection at New York Fashion Week, which was designed in partnership with Hanako Maeda’s ADEAM fashion house, and with sketch design input from Mari.

“I remember when I was little when we would play tournaments in Tokyo, and every time we would go to Harajuku or Ginza or Shibuya. It was so cool to walk around and see everyone in so many different outfits that you wouldn’t necessarily see in America,” Naomi added.

“Why wouldn’t you want a little animal on your thing so people can really understand how cute you truly are inside?”

All proceeds from the sales of the limited edition masks, which retail for US$10, are available at naomiosaka.com.

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Author: Arthur Ajayi