The coronavirus pandemic has been an unprecedented time in all of our lives, and the world is struggling to cope. One of the biggest issues most countries have faced in the fight against the virus is having enough personal protective equipment, or PPE, for frontline health professionals and key workers. That’s where the fashion industry comes in.
Over the last month, numerous clothing brands have volunteered to drastically alter their production lines and start manufacturing or purchasing PPE for where it’s desperately needed.
In France, luxury brand Kering, which owns Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent, has purchased 3 million surgical masks from China to be used by French health services, and has made a substantial donation towards medical research concerning the virus. LVMH, the owner of Dior, Bulgari, Givenchy and Tiffany & Co. among others, has also made a huge promise to purchase 40 million masks from China throughout April to be distributed across France. The company has also repurposed its perfume and cosmetics factory to produce hydroalcoholic gel for French hospitals.
In Spain, Zara has turned to making masks and surgical gowns for hospital staff, pledging to provide 300,000 masks to the health services. High street brand Mango has pledged to provide Spanish hospitals with 2 million masks in response to instructions from the country’s Ministry of Health.
The trend has also reached the UK, with iconic brand Burberry repurposing its Yorkshire factory to produce 100,000 face masks for medical staff across Britain, alongside hospital gowns. They will also be making a donation to Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine research. British brand Boden is contributing by collaborating with the charity Helpforce to donate nightwear and clothing to NHS staff who can’t get home safely after shifts, as well as to coronavirus patients whose families aren’t able to bring them clothes while they’re in hospital.
H&M has redirected its production lines around the world to start producing PPE. The company’s CEO, Helena Helmersson, made the following statement:
“The Coronavirus is dramatically affecting each and every one of us, and H&M Group is, like many other organisations, trying our best to help in this extraordinary situation. We see this is as a first step in our efforts to support in any way we can. We are all in this together, and have to approach this as collectively as possible.”
Maria Grazia Chiuri, the Italian creative director of Dior, has expressed her admiration of the industry’s reaction to the crisis, saying that:
“I’m very proud of the whole fashion system. So many industries are using their knowledge, capacity and resources to invent and make things that the medical community currently needs. […] It’s beautiful what’s happening there.”
The world definitely needs a bit more beauty at the moment, and fashion brands coming together to use their resources for what’s most important is a prime example of achieving this.