Fashion Fights Coronavirus: Designers Create Masks, Hospital Gowns and More to Fight Pandemic
Many of the world’s fashion designers and brands have had to halt everyday operations due to the coronavirus pandemic — but now, several firms are reallocating resources to fight the virus’ spread.
As COVID-19 cases have sharply increased, affecting 341,500 people and causing 15,187 deaths globally as of March 23, so too has the need for essential resources, such as masks, hospital gowns and hand sanitizer.
Fashion designers including Christian Siriano, Brandon Maxwell and Michael Costello are coming in to help fill that gap, mobilizing their teams to produce supplies needed by health-care workers and COVID-19 patients.
Larger companies, such as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Kering, L’Oréal and Coty are also pitching in, having their factories produce hand sanitizer to distribute free of charge to health authorities.
Here, WWD compiles the ways that fashion designers and brands are pitching in to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brandon Maxwell’s team is researching the appropriate medical textiles to make gowns for hospital doctors and nurses treating COVID-19 patients. He also aims to create medical grade masks and gloves as more information on manufacturing these supplies becomes available.
“It is important for us to come together now not only for each other, but most importantly for the communities that rely on us,” he wrote in a March 21 Instagram post.
Christian Siriano and his team of seamstresses are working to produce protective masks for New York City hospitals after the fashion designer reached out to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 20 asking how he could help.
The designer and his team are aiming to produce 1,000 masks in a few days. He also aims to create gowns for hospital workers, but is waiting to receive the legal requirements on what medical staffs are permitted to wear.
“I really think that if anybody still has team members who are sewing or who can sew, especially in New York, we could make a few hundred a day,” he said. “There are only so many people who work in a hospital. Fashion could really change everything in a week. Look, we have nothing else to do right now. Nobody is buying clothes so what can we do? I hope that everybody can pitch in.”
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The beauty company is producing hand sanitizer at some of its manufacturing sites to distribute free to medical and emergency services.
The New York-based upscale fabric manufacturer is offering medical-grade cotton fabric to sewers, tailors and designers to produce one million masks. Among the brands that have already committed to producing masks with the cotton are Dara Lamb in New York City and Mark Allen Clothiers in Providence, R.I.
Apparel company Hanes is retrofitting some of its facilities to produce protective masks, according to a statement the brand released on March 22 on Instagram.
The company’s factory in Rochester, N.Y., has started to create protective face masks for the medical staff at Rochester General Hospital after the medical center reached out to the company for help. The factory, which had been closed as a result of the virus, produced 1,400 masks on the first day on March 23, and has 3,000 pieces cut for production later this week.
Inditex, the parent company of Zara, is transitioning its production sites to manufacture protective gowns. It has also secured masks for the Spanish government through its supply network with China.
The luxury group stated on March 22 that its brands Balenciaga and Saint Laurent plan to manufacture masks for health-care workers. Kering has also purchased 3 million surgical masks that it will import from China to distribute to French health services.
L’Oréal has launched an initiative in Europe to fight COVID-19. Its brands La Roche-Posay and Garnier will produce hand sanitizer to donate to French and European hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton
The luxury conglomerate announced on March 15 that it will be manufacturing hand sanitizer at all of its perfumery and cosmetics production facilities, which will be distributed to French health authorities.
The company later revealed it is also delivering 10 million masks in France after securing an order with a Chinese supplier.
Los Angeles-based fashion designer Michael Costello and his team are producing 20,000 protective masks for health-care workers, first responders and hospitals in the city. He has designed a cotton-nylon blend protective mask with 70 to 74 percent air filtration effectiveness, according to the brand.
“For the first couple of days of this emergency I, like many others, felt frustrated and helpless just sitting at home,” Costello said in a statement. “I realized that even if I couldn’t do what I wanted as a designer I should do what I can to help others that keep our community safe.”
New York-based fashion designer Nicole Miller is using her company resources to produce protective masks and hospital gowns.
The design house is manufacturing 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks at its Montone, Italy, factory to distribute to health-care workers. This comes after the Italian government closed all nonessential manufacturing activities in the country until April 3.
Read more on COVID-19 here:
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