Not only causing a world economic depression, but it seemed that the COVID-19 epidemic is also freezing the fashion industry. In the time of this global crisis, stores closed, runway shows cancelled, and most fashion companies had to postpone their operations.
Facing the hard situation, major fashion houses and brands have came up with the idea of carrying out the production of masks and protective equipment in the fight against COVID-19.
According to the US health officials’ report, healthcare workers in the frontlines of combating COVID-19 are facing severe shortages of medical supplies even though manufacturers are ramping up on production. Some healthcare workers have had to reuse masks, and or even make their own.
To deal with this critical shortfall, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called for aid on Twitter, posting: “We need companies to be creative to supply the crucial gear our healthcare workers need.” Shortly after the tweet, the fashion designer Christian Siriano, a former contestant of the reality TV show “Project Runway,” quickly responded to the request on his account: “If @NYGovCuomo says we need masks my team will help make some.” Days shortly after communicating with Governor Andrew Cuomo, the designer promptly posted a video about the production of medical masks.
Christian Siriano was not the only one to respond. Nepalese-American designer Prabal Gurung also joined the force and offered to help in a post via his Instagram account. His support brought along the hope of easing the shortage of medical supplies as well as revitalizing the production and supply chains of businesses in the United States. The movement also had the participation of designer Brandon Maxwell, who has dressed celebrities such as Lady Gaga and former US First Lady Michelle Obama, by announcing that he is shifting resources towards the production of gowns for healthcare workers.
The wave spread over from the US to Europe. There, major fashion corporations have also enlisted in a “campaign” to produce medical masks for frontline healthcare workers dealing with the disease. The giants H&M and Inditex, Zara brand’s parent companies, have announced that they would gear their operation toward the production of medical masks.
The French luxury fashion conglomerate Kering, which owns two brands Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent, announced the plan of buying 3 million Chinese anti-COVID-19 masks to contribute to the health system of France. Meanwhile, Kering’s largest brand Gucci is also arranging to donate 1.1 million masks and 55,000 medical supplies to Italy.
Rival LVMH Group, which owns the two brands Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, is also planning to sponsor 40 million masks from China in the next four weeks. In the first round of funding for the French health system, LVMH has donated goods that valued up to 5 million euros.
The Italian brand of Prada has also produced 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 protective masks for the Tuscany province health system. Fast Retailing Group, the parent company of Japanese brand Uniqlo, has also announced that it would join hands with partners in China aiming to produce 10 million protective masks for doctors participating in the fight against COVID-19.
The movement of producing medical supplies was not only among the large fashion industry. In the United States, social resources including dentists, woodworking enthusiasts and investment bank Goldman Sachs have also participated in sponsoring medical masks for doctors who are coping with the disease.
Perfume brands and chemical distillation facilities are also involved in the production of hand sanitizer, which is also in short supply.
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