Mulberry, Burberry, and CSM Join Fellow Fashion Brands to Make Masks and Gowns For the NHS
The fashion industry has found a valuable way to contribute in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Kering — the parent company of Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and Gucci — is one of many fashion brands making face masks to support medical professionals who are running low on personal protective equipment (PPE).
The Kering Group announced on Sunday that "in the days ahead, Kering will provide the French health service with 3 million surgical masks, which the Group will purchase and import from China". Currently, the Group's workshops for Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent are "preparing to manufacture masks while complying with the strictest health protection measures for their staff members".
Following Kering's announcement, LVMH pledged to order 40 million masks from a Chinese supplier with the first order of 10 million masks being delivered as soon as Friday, March 27. This move follows the brand's decision to produce hand sanitiser for French hospitals at its workshops for Gucci, Balenciaga, and Saint Laurent.
Chanel is also pledging its support for healthcare workers. On Monday, 30th March, the French brand's president of fashion, Bruno Pavlovsky, announced in a statement that "we are mobilising our partner manufacturers and teams, including close to 150 sewing specialists from the Haute Couture, Ready-to-Wear and Maisons d'Art workshops, to produce protective face masks and gowns." Chanel is currently working on prototypes that will be sent to production once the materials are approved by public health authorities.
Kering, Chanel, and LVMH's decision to manufacture essential face masks for shortages in France, follows similar moves by designers in London, Milan, and New York. British designer Phoebe English announced on its Instagram account that "we have machinery that can be of use to make additional face masks — do you know of any organisations that are running low on stocks on medical masks that we could help to restock?". The brand made this announcement in addition to offering assistance to isolators in London's SE8 area who need help retrieving food or medication.
Students at Central Saint Martins are also lending a helping hand by sewing non-surgical scrubs for the NHS. "We are asking our students (& the public) to get involved and make scrubs for the NHS", said the CSM Fashion & Textiles Specialism Instagram account. The patterns are made by CSM fashion design tutor Chris Kelly and are available to download from the CSM loves NHS website, with additional information on where to send the scrubs once they're done.
On Saturday, 28th March, Burberry announced, via Instagram, three separate actions it is taking to lend support to not only the NHS, but people in need in the UK. "We are using our global supply chain network to fast-track delivery of 100,000 surgical masks to the UK National Health Service, for use by medical staff," the first post read, adding that they'd also be using their trench coat factory in Yorkshire to make non-surgical gowns and masks for patients. The fashion house is also donating to FareShare and The Felix Project, two charities aimed at tackling food poverty in the UK, as well as funding research being done at Oxford into a single-dose vaccine for the virus. "The University has one of the world's best track records in emergency vaccine development, and its COVID-19 vaccine is on course to begin human trials next month," the post reads.
In Italy, Prada converted one of its factories to produce 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 surgical masks. 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. The brand's CEOs, Miuccia Prada, Patrizio Bertelli, and chairman Carlo Mazzi previously donated six intensive care units to hospitals in Milan on March 16.
Versace also joined initiatives to support hospitals in Italy by donating $500,000 to the Intensive Care Unit of San Raffaele Hospital in Milan. The brand's chief creative officer, Donatella Versace, announced on Instagram that "We are going through something none of us has ever experienced. Despite all the uncertainty and the fear, we have shown the world that we are a strong community, that we stand together, and that we have helped each other in such an amazing, generous way," she says. "I have never been more proud of being Italian and I feel it was not just an honour, but my duty to do my part and support in any way I could."
In the United States, Project Runway's Christian Siriano and Brandon Maxwell pledged to use their skills and resources to create face masks and gowns for healthcare workers. Christian first used Twitter to offer his team's assistance to New York, after Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed a concern over a shortage of essential protective equipment.
Shortly after, Brandon shared a message of his own and confirmed his team have started to make medical gowns. "In response to the global crisis, we are now focusing our creative efforts on manufacturing PPE (personal protective equipment), starting with gowns," he wrote. "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."
Keep reading ahead for all the designers and fashion brands making personal protective equipment to support healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.