Coronavirus: Fashion biggies make masks, personal protective equipment to help fight pandemic
Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Prada and many others are helping to overcome shortages of medical face masks and other personal protective equipment in some of the worst-hit countries.
As the novel coronavirus sweeps the globe, fashion conglomerates such as H&M, Zara’s parent company Inditex; luxury brands Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent, and designers among others have offered to help overcome shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) in some of the worst-hit countries.
Nurses and doctors in the hardest-hit nations have pleaded for more protective gear to prevent themselves getting infected by coughing patients as they fight against the deadly outbreak. On social media, the hashtag #GetMePPE is being used by doctors and nurses seeking personal protective equipment.
This is an anesthesiologist, Dr. John Henao, who is running out of PPE (personal protective equipment) at his hospital. He, like most of us, are currently working under the assumption that most people are Covid19 positive and asymptomatic, but in order to #getmePPE pic.twitter.com/VVNUdQfutb— Lisa Miller, MD (@thedelports) March 20, 2020
This is what it looks like in the ICU. Rows of brown bags each labeled with the name of a nurse or doctor . We are told to keep and reuse these masks , which under normal conditions would be thrown out each time we leave the isolation room. #GetMePPE pic.twitter.com/8blP8LzAGv— Victoria (@V_Q_W) March 19, 2020
When you get sick and have to come to the hospital, I assume you want a doctor and nurse to take care of you.— Jahan Fahimi (@JahanFahimi) March 19, 2020
If we are forced to keep reusing masks or run out of them, there may not be enough of us left. #GetMePPE for #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/DWicKnu5J7
Amid the crisis, manufacturers in the US have increased the production of these essentials but still health officials warn that stockpiles of medical gear may be insufficient for the states across the country. Some medical workers have been forced to reuse masks between patients and even make their own.
Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York -- the worst-hit state witnessing a quick and brutal rise in the number of Covid-19 cases -- sought assistance on Twitter, saying:
????NY has a critical need for PPE including gloves, gowns & masks????— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 20, 2020
We need companies to be creative to supply the crucial gear our healthcare workers need. NY will pay a premium and offer funding.
Need Funding? ????212-803-3100
Have Unused Supplies? ????646-522-8477
US fashion designer and "Project Runway" alumni Christian Siriano was the first to respond to the governor’s request.
If @NYGovCuomo says we need masks my team will help make some. I have a full sewing team still on staff working from home that can help.— Christian Siriano (@CSiriano) March 20, 2020
Powerful women right here! This is what Fashion is right now for us. Making hundreds of masks a day and that’s what we can do to help. Thank you to my team for this. #christiansiriano pic.twitter.com/sO8TfZVJTJ— Christian Siriano (@CSiriano) March 24, 2020
Siriano had also posted a video of face mask production already underway.
A very productive day today. pic.twitter.com/UV0wN7b9yq— Christian Siriano (@CSiriano) March 23, 2020
Many have joined the battle against the deadly pandemic. Nepalese-American designer Prabal Gurung, who is based in New York, took to Instagram saying that he hoped "not only to fill the void of critical PPE, but to mobilize our domestic partners, revitalizing US producers and suppliers."
The PG team has been working tirelessly over the course of the last week to finalize an actionable plan to manufacture PPE for medical workers and first responders who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. As a brand that produces over 90% of our collections in NY, our goal is not only to fill the void of critical PPE, but to mobilize our domestic partners, revitalizing US producers and suppliers. While we are eager to share our progress with you all, the Coronavirus crisis is ever evolving, and as new information is revealed, so are new FDA and state regulations. In this moment, credible and validated information is of the utmost importance for the advancement of all COVID-19 relief efforts. We are currently working in partnership with @nygovcuomo office & local hospitals to secure clearance to produce, and ensure the viability of our output. More updates to follow!
A post shared by Prabal Gurung (@prabalgurung) on
Designer Brandon Maxwell -- who has dressed high-profile figures from Lady Gaga to Michelle Obama -- announced that he is redirecting resources towards the production of gowns for medical workers.
US luxury swimwear brand Karla Colletto, Los Angeles Apparel, and apron and culinary clothing manufacturer Hedley & Bennett are producing face masks for frontline medical workers and doctors.
In Europe, H&M and Inditex would be operating to produce medical supplies.
French luxury giant Kering announced that two of its brands -- Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent – would be manufacturing masks to fight coronavirus. According to CNN, the group has also committed to acquiring 3 million Chinese masks for French health service. Luxury brand Gucci is planning to manufacture and donate 1.1 million masks and 55,000 medical overalls to authorities in hard-hit Italy.
Rival LVMH -- which owns Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior among others -- will source 40 million facemasks from China over the next four weeks, according to a press release.
Italian luxury fashion house Prada has begun production of 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks at the request of authorities in Tuscany.
It is commendable that these top firms are taking initiatives to help the countries fight the disease by helping medical workers and first responders, but the help would count only when these companies will meet strict medical requirements.
Fashion industry is not the only one pitching to help in this distressing situation, perfume makers and distilleries are also utilizing their facilities to produce hand sanitizer, which has also been in short supply.