In the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the fashion industry has found a valuable way to contribute. Kering, the parent company of Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and Gucci, is making face masks to support medical professionals who are running low on personal protective equipment (PPE).
Most recently Prada converted one of its factories in Italy to produce 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 surgical masks. According to Popsugar, the push was prompted by a request from the Tuscany region, where Prada will keep its Montone factory open to receive daily deliveries of medical kits until April 6, 2020. Besides Prada, Christian Siriano and Brandon Maxwell are among the growing number of fashion brands that are using their sewing skills to make masks and medical gowns.
Recent reports suggest that New York has more than 16,000 cases of the coronavirus, and as medical demands rise, medical supplies have declined. Hospital staff are experiencing an emergency shortage of supplies such as gowns and masks due to the overwhelming number of patients.
After Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo took to Twitter to make a public call to action for “creativity” in order to curb the lack of necessities needed by medical staff, Christian Siriano (who has dressed Zendaya, Leslie Jones, Cynthia Erivo and Celine Dion) heeded this call to action — sewing machine and scissors in hand. “If we need masks my team can make them! I have sewers and pattern makers ready to help working from home,” tweeted Siriano along with posting prototypes of the masks.
Shortly after, Brandon Maxwell, who is one of Meghan Markle’s favourite designers, also pledged his support. He confirmed on Instagram that his team has started making medical gowns. “In response to this global crisis, we are now focusing our creative efforts on manufacturing PPE, starting with gowns,” Maxwell wrote on Instagram. “We have spent the last week researching the appropriate medical textiles to create these gowns and are proud to provide these much needed items to the doctors and nurses on the front lines of this crisis.”
Moreover, Gucci has committed to donate 1.1 million masks and 55,000 protective medical gowns to aid Italy’s fight against the coronavirus. According to recent reports the high-end brand said they expected to lose several hundred million Euros in the first quarter of 2020 because of the global pandemic, with hundreds of millions of people worldwide in home confinement.
This is not all. Los Angeles based Michael Costello, who has styled Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey, joined the fight to lend a helping hand too. Taking to Instagram, the designer wrote he has been working for 24 hours, saying, “Glued to my machine in hopes of making prototypes of face masks.”
Costello explained that a contact in Los Angeles would produce surgical-grade masks that help prevent catching the coronavirus. “We will not be selling any of these but rather giving them away to all first responders, hospitals, and healthcare providers,” he further revealed.
Similarly, high-street brands are shifting their focus. Spanish-owned Zara pledged last week to produce surgical masks, saying it had already donated 10,000 masks and a further 300,000 were due to be sent by the end of this week.
H&M Group announced that it would be rearranging its supply chain to produce protective equipment for hospitals and healthcare workers.
–With information from The Hollywood Reporter and Popsugar.