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 541,200 people and causing 24,700 deaths globally as of March 27, 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.
Other initiatives are being set up nationwide calling on professionals such as set designers, photographers, nail technicians and hair stylists, among others, to donate their unused masks or gloves to hospitals in need.
Here, WWD compiles the ways that fashion designers and brands are pitching in to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alice + Olivia
Alice + Olivia designer Stacey Bendet revealed in a March 21 tweet that the brand is producing masks that it will donate to hospitals in New York.
Allbirds has donated $500,000 in shoes to health-care workers across the country. The brand is also offering a buy-one-give-one option to customers who wish to be a part of the donation initiative.
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.
The French manufacturing company is producing hand sanitizer and protective masks at its factories. The company aims to produce five tons of hand sanitizer and one million units of masks each week.
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.”
The beauty company is producing hand sanitizer at some of its manufacturing sites to distribute free to medical and emergency services.
The shoe brand has launched a giveaway initiative where it is giving free pairs of shoes to health-care workers. These individuals can take part in the initiative through the brand’s web site, which will begin accepting requests at noon each day while supplies last.
Crocs is also donating 100,000 shoes to health-care facilities across the country.
The Detroit-based sewing house has converted its manufacturing operations to produce over 200,000 medical masks for hospitals in need.
Italian-based fashion line Drome is producing masks for Italian hospitals in its factory outside of Tuscany.
Seattle-based outdoor brand Eddie Bauer is shifting its production capacity to manufacture N95 and surgical masks. It will be donating the masks to the Department of Enterprise Services, which will distribute the supplies to health-care facilities in need in Washington state.
Eileen Fisher has partnered with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and the Economic Development Corporation to produce medical gowns, masks and other essential supplies for health-care workers.
Estée Lauder Cos.
The beauty company is reopening its Melville, N.Y. manufacturing facility to produce hand sanitizer to health-care workers.
Accessories designer Eugenia Kim is working with her factories in Taiwan to manufacture disposable masks, surgical masks and N95 masks.
Fanatics, which manufactures the official Major League Baseball jerseys, is teaming with the MLB to produce face masks and hospital gowns at its Easton, Pa. factory to distribute to hospitals in the state. The company aims to produce one million masks and gowns featuring the Yankees’ famous pinstripes pattern.
The Uniqlo parent company has obtained 10 million protective masks from its manufacturing partners in China to distribute to high-priority medical facilities across the world.
The Armani Group is converting all of its Italian production sites to produce medical overalls for health-care workers.
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.
Gucci has also worked with its supply chain to donate 1.1 million surgical masks and 55,000 medical gowns to health-care professionals in the Tuscany area in Italy.
Lia Kes Berman’s New York-based label, Kes, is donating 500 masks to the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. She is also working with her team to produce 10,000 more masks in the next few weeks.
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.
The Italian lingerie company is donating 10,000 masks to affected areas in Bologna.
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.
A Mask Crusaders initiative has popped up in large cities across the nation, including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Boston, among others, which helps distribute donations of masks and gloves to hospitals in need.
The initiative is calling on creative professionals, such as photographers, set designers, makeup artists, hair stylists and nail technicians, as well as others who have unused masks or gloves to donate their supplies through its online form, which matches those individuals with health-care professionals.
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.
Designer Prabal Gurung revealed on Instagram on March 23 that his team is working to finalize a plan to produce essential supplies for health-care workers.
“As a brand that produces over 90 percent of our collections in New York, our goal is not only to fill the void of critical PPE, but to mobilize our domestic partners, revitalizing U.S. producers and suppliers,” he wrote.
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.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garrett is teaming with clothing brand Reformation on the L.A. Protects initiative, which is organizing the city’s garment manufacturers to produce protective masks.
Reformation is recruiting other Los Angeles-based apparel producers to manufacture the masks. The initiative’s goal is to produce five million masks.
The Italian brand is producing over 100,000 protective masks and 50,000 units of hand sanitizer to donate to health-care workers in Tuscany.
Los Angeles-based fashion label Sanctuary is working to produce over 5 million N95 masks to support the medical community. The company will make donations to hospitals in the Los Angeles area and nursing homes in New York City.
St. Louis Fashion Fund
The St. Louis Fashion Fund has teamed with designer Michael Drummond to produce 14,000 medically-approved masks for health-care workers.
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