After tweeting to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday asking how he could get masks to New York City hospitals, Cuomo’s team responded immediately to help coordinate and to determine which hospital needs the masks first, Siriano said.
Now working from his home in Connecticut, Siriano said he and his team aim to make 1,000 masks for New York City hospitals in a couple of days.
Siriano also hopes that any other designer who has the production capacity to help will do so. “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. 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.”
Siriano said, “I know that Monique Lhuillier has a full working atelier in L.A. Maybe she can help. Hopefully, everybody can get on board a little bit. I know obviously that a lot of people have lost their jobs and it is a tough time. We’re able to still do this and hopefully can help in that way.”
In accordance with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “stay-at-home” edict, Lhuillier’s facility has been temporarily closed. Marc Brouwer was another New York-based designer, who volunteered his services Friday, offering to help design masks via Instagram.
Expecting his team to make a couple hundred a day, the designer said, “Luckily, it’s a very easy thing to make. We’re going to use a washable fabric that we already have. That is great because hopefully they will be able to use it for two to three days instead of disposing of it every day.”
Before workers in his New York atelier started working remotely, each of his eight seamstresses was sent home with fabric and sewing machines. Well aware that his team is not qualified to make medical-grade masks, Siriano knew they could make masks for everyone else in the hospitals — social workers, receptionists and other nonmedical employees who need to wear them. “That’s where we can help because my team is still available and is still working from home,” he said.
Siriano also aims to develop gowns for hospital workers, but is waiting to hear what the legal requirements are for medical staffs to be able to wear those designs. “Once we get the actual information then we are happy to help as much as we can,” Siriano said.
Knowing that U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams called on Kylie Jenner and other influencers to help fight the pandemic, Siriano acknowledged he has other messages to share. With 1.4 million followers on Instagram and 365,000 on Twitter, Siriano is trying to push people toward safety. “Obviously, the biggest message is for people to actually stay home. We’re trying to promote that as much as possible,” he said.
Another “Project Runway” personality, Brandon Maxwell has spent the past week researching the appropriate medical textiles to create PPE gowns to provide them to nurses and doctors fighting the coronavirus crisis. Working from home, the designer and his team plan to manufacture medical grade masks and gloves as soon as more information becomes available about the requirements.
In addition, New York-based designer Nicole Miller said she is mobilizing to make masks and hospital gowns with her company’s resources.