Fashion may seem frivolous, especially in times such as these, but many in the industry have shown their true colours and joined the fight against Covid-19 in some very practical ways.
Take fashion designer, Christian Siriano, for example. Siriano, who has dressed the likes of Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift and Whoopi Goldberg, initially closed his studio due to the pandemic. After receiving special permission from New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, to reopen as an “essential” business, however, he gathered his team together and set up an assembly line to produce surgical masks. Working six feet apart, of course, they turned out almost 2000 masks in the first week of production.
Balenciaga, Prada, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, H&M, Zara, Hanes, and Uniqlo are amongst many other brands, both luxury and fast fashion, who have made the switch to producing masks. In addition, Prada has been financing the ICUs in three new hospitals in Milan and Gucci committed to producing 55 000 medical coveralls as well as more than one million masks. American department store chain, Nordstrom, has teamed up with Kaas Tailored to have their alterations teams in several US states sew more than 100 000 masks.
Joanna Griffiths, founder and CEO of Canadian intimate apparel brand, Knix, while exploring whether or not that company’s leakproof nursing bras could be transformed into masks, discovered that two of Knix’s main product vendors also own factories that produced PPE (Personal Protective Equipment such as masks and gowns). Deciding that the best way Knix could help would be to purchase finished PPE rather than reinventing their own product, Griffiths launched a GoFundMe campaign that surpassed its original goal of $50 000 in just 48 hours. Should you wish to contribute, the campaign continues and you can find it here.
Canadian winter coat manufacturer, Canada Goose, has pressed its factories in Winnipeg and Toronto into service producing patient gowns and scrubs for frontline healthcare workers. Jockey has been providing healthcare workers with Tier 3 isolation gowns and others using their resources to produce gowns, scrubs, and masks include Nieman Marcus working in conjunction with JOANN fabric and craft stores, and Gap Inc. which includes the Gap, Old Navy, Athleta, Banana Republic, Intermix, Hill City, and Janie and Jack brands. Ralph Lauren is also producing masks and gowns and the charitable arm of that company, the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, is donating $10 million toward the global Covid-19 response.
You’ve probably heard about breweries producing antibacterial hand sanitizers, but they aren’t alone in that endeavour. Many cosmetic and fragrance brands have also turned their factories into production facilities for hand sanitizer. These include Estée Lauder, Guerlain, Parfums Christian Dior, LVMH, Givenchy, Coty, L’Oreal, and the Orly nail brand. Estée Lauder has also given a $2 million grant to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières to support relief efforts in countries that lack the resources to combat the virus on their own.
Shoe companies are also getting involved. Crocs is donating a free pair of shoes (including shipping) to frontline health care workers. If you’re a healthcare professional, simply visit their website to request a pair. Allbirds began by donating $500 000 worth of shoes to healthcare workers and others on the frontlines. Now they’ve launched a “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” campaign which allows customers who buy a pair of shoes for themselves to automatically provide a pair to a medical worker. If you aren’t interested in purchasing for yourself, you can simply donate a pair through the program. Find the information on this campaign here.
Numerous other fashion and cosmetic brands are finding unique ways to contribute to the worldwide fight against Covid-19. Fashion label, Michael Kors, pledged $1 million to New York based relief efforts with the designer himself personally pledging an additional $1 million. Saks Fifth Avenue is donating $600 000 to support patient care and to address mental health needs in response to the pandemic. Kenneth Cole is donating 20% of sales to the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Response Fund. Body Shop is donating 30 000 units of cleansing products to shelters and senior centres across the United States and Canada. Finally, MAC Cosmetics is donating $10 million to 250 organizations worldwide that are committed to fighting Covid-19 as well as donating 100% of Viva Glam lipstick sales to vulnerable communities that have been impacted by the virus.
I’m certain that my research hasn’t turned up every fashion and cosmetic brand that is contributing in a meaningful way to the Covid-19 response. If you’re aware of others, please include them in the comment section and let’s all do our part by supporting these businesses both now and in the days to come!