Fashion Brands Make Medical Masks and Scrubs for Coronavirus Doctors
Hollywood.reporter.com: Since New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s appeal last week on Twitter for the public’s help in providing supplies such as face masks to hospitals, more fashion designers and labels have risen to the occasion during the coronavirus pandemic.
The demand in hospitals for personal protective equipment (PPE) is growing, and hygiene supplies like hand sanitizer remain a hot commodity with grocery stores and online retailers such as Amazon selling out quickly. Red carpet designers including Christian Siriano, Brandon Maxwell and Prada already said they are sewing masks and gowns as the outbreak spreads, with 54,000 cases in the U.S. reported to date.
Gap, Eddie Bauer, Canada Goose and Bulgari are among the companies now transforming their workshops into production centers for masks, scrubs, hand sanitizer and more core products to fight the coronavirus.
Bulgari is collaborating with its fragrance manufacturer, Industrie Cosmetiche Riunite, to make bottles of hand sanitizer in recyclable bottles. The bottles will be given to medical facilities and the Italian government, with plans to donate several hundred thousand within the next two months.
"I believe as a major economic actor and symbol of Italy, Bulgari has a responsibility to contribute to the national effort to help prevent, fight and eradicate COVID-19. We believe it is our duty to contribute with our know-how and production facilities," CEO Jean-Christophe Babin said Wednesday in a statement.
Bulgari is also part of fashion conglomerate LVMH, along with Louis Vuitton, Dior and Givenchy, which is ordering 10 million masks from a Chinese producer to deliver in France for the next four weeks, for a total of 40 million masks. Dior and Givenchy's perfume and cosmetics labs are making about 50 tons of sanitizing gel a week to donate to French hospitals.
Outdoor clothing label Eddie Bauer has now shifted parts of its production to make medical masks that it will donate to Washington state’s Department of Enterprise Services. Eddie Bauer expects to send 5,000 N95 masks next week and 15,000 more by early April. The brand is based in Seattle, which experienced an early outbreak of the coronavirus; the state has seen about 2,500 cases.
"With our production capabilities and supply-chain resources, Eddie Bauer is working with our vendors to shift apparel production to make the masks our healthcare workers so urgently need," said Eddie Bauer president Damien Huang in a statement. "Our neighbors here in Washington state and the greater Seattle area have been seriously impacted by COVID-19. We’ve been a part of this community for 100 years, and we take our responsibility to our community seriously. While as a retailer we have been hit hard by the circumstances, we will do what we can to support healthcare workers and facilities in our own backyard."
He added, "Our industry faces enormous challenges ahead, but none as consequential as the health of our communities."
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on coronavirus legislation on Wednesday after reaching an agreement with the White House on a $2.2 trillion spending bill that would send $130 billion to hospitals. And with a shortage of medical professionals, NYU announced Wednesday it would graduate its fourth-year medical students early to get more physicians into the health care system to treat COVID-19 patients.
In the meantime, Gap is offering assistance during the global emergency. A rep for the retailer tells The Hollywood Reporter it has established "a small cross-brand and cross-functional team" to leverage its global supply chain and "actively work with California hospitals" to help connect them with Gap's sourcing vendors that have masks and protective gowns. Kaiser Permanente is one medical facility that will benefit from the efforts.
Outwear brand Canada Goose likewise said Wednesday it will use its manufacturing facilities in Toronto and Winnipeg to produce "necessary medical gear" for health care workers combating the virus in Canada. It is beginning to make scrubs and patient gowns and will donate them to hospitals next week. Fifty employees will make the garbs with a goal of creating 10,000 items to start.
"Across Canada, there are people risking their lives every day on the frontlines of COVID-19 in health care facilities, and they need help. Now is the time to put our manufacturing resources and capabilities to work for the greater good," said Canada Goose president and CEO Dani Reiss in a statement. "Our employees are ready, willing and able to help, and that’s what we’re doing. It’s the Canadian thing to do."
Reiss will forgo his salary for the next three months and instead put the money toward an Employee Support Fund for those affected by store closures.
Furthermore, the Economic Development Corporation and the Brooklyn Navy Yard has united with New York label Lafayette 148 and designer Eileen Fisher. The former has surgical gown patterns, which are now in the prototype phase, that will benefit the New York area. "I am so pleased to see so many fashion brands coming together to help keep our healthcare workers safe," says a spokesperson for Lafayette 148.
Zara’s owner Inditex revealed a week ago that it would make scrubs to aid the efforts in Spain and planned to donate more than 300,000 masks. And the Kering fashion group pledged to donate three million masks (purchased from China) to French officials, while Kering houses Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent start making masks at their workshops using "the strictest health protection measures" for staff.
Over in California, Kylie Jenner’s OB-GYN doctor, Dr. Thais Aliabadi, asked for help this week in providing health care professionals with enough personal protective equipment. On Wednesday, Jenner answered the call with a $1 million donation to purchase hundreds of thousands of face masks, face shields and other gear that can be used by doctors treating the coronavirus. She continues to encourage her 160 million Instagram followers to stay home, at the urging of Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
Aliabadi wrote Wednesday on Instagram, "I am speechless, my eyes are filled with tears of joy and my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude. I made a wish to the Universe to gather protective masks for our brave healthcare workers and today my dream came true."