Fashion Brands Re-purposing Production Lines: Fulfilling Social Responsibility During Crisis

With stores closed, runway shows canceled, and global supply chains disrupted, much of the fashion industry has been rendered idle by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, designers, luxury labels, and fashion brands are all stepping up to help overcome shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) in some of the hardest-hit countries.




The rising need for masks, sanitizers, personal protective equipment is causing chills in the healthcare sectors. In the USA, the situation is even worse, as health officials have warned that stockpiles of medical equipment may be insufficient. Though manufacturers are ramping up production, still some of the doctors are forced to reuse the mask between themselves and patients. The condition is so worrisome that the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, had to tweet for assistance saying, “We need companies to be creative to supply the crucial gear our healthcare workers need.”


Realizing the significance of scarcity of essential healthcare equipment, many fashion designers and brands have come forward to show solidarity with the patients and the healthcare sector. They have taken the onus of making the masks, and other PPEs to support the domain and have completely shut their previous production.


  • Designers Making N95 Masks


A Nepalese-American designer Prabal Gurung, based in New York, has offered to help. He posted a message on his brand’s Instagram account that “he hoped not only to fill the void of critical PPE but to mobilize our domestic partners, revitalizing US producers and suppliers.”  Designer Brandon Maxwell, who has dressed high-profile figures from Lady Gaga to Michelle Obama, announced that he is redirecting resources toward the production of gowns for medical workers.


Karla Colleto has offered the services of its 450-person-plus workforce to produce face masks. Hedley & Bennett is now providing masks for frontline workers with the help of donations.  French luxury conglomerate Kering announced that two of its brands, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent, are preparing to manufacture COVID-19 masks. The group has also committed to acquiring 3 million Chinese face covers for French health service, while its largest brand, Gucci, is looking to make and donate 1.1 million masks and 55,000 medical overalls to authorities in hard-hit Italy.


  • Louis Vuitton offers Financial Support


The company is leveraging its global supply chain to source 40 million facemasks from China over the next four weeks. The multinational will finance the first week’s worth of deliveries, a pledge amounting to five million euros, according to their press release. According to the article, the French company has pledged to provide protective wear in light of the world pandemic. Its team seems to move fast on the donation as a quarter of goods have already been produced. The supplies are intended for French health facilities.

LVMH had manufactured 15 tons of sanitizing gel across its three production sites for Parfums Christian Dior, Givenchy, and Guerlain.

In a statement issued by the company said, “LVMH has managed to secure an order with a Chinese industrial supplier for delivery of 10 million masks in France in the coming days. The order will be repeated for at least four weeks in similar quantities.”

  • Prada Promises Medical Equipment 


The brand has begun the production of 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks at the request of authorities in Tuscany. In a press release, the brand promised that it would produce 110,000 face covers by 6 April.


  • Armani Switches Production Plants


The Armani Group announced today that all of its Italian production plants have switched to manufacturing single-use medical overalls, to protect health care workers in Milan, Rome and the Tuscany region.


  • Gucci Donates Handsome Amount


According to the Vogue Business, Gucci is donating more than $2 million to the cause, which will be allocated between the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund and the Italian Civil Protection Department. The Italian label is also using its social media platform to encourage followers to make donations in a campaign called “We Are All In This Together.”


  • H&M Helps in Logistics 


The company will help in fighting against COVID-19, as it immediately started to prepare for the production of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers. H&M will also use its vast purchasing and logistics operations to commence the delivery of the newly manufactured medical textiles as soon as possible.


  • L’OrealJoins Hands to Manufacture Sanitization gel


L’Oréal and Hermès are turning over some of their manufacturing facilities to the voluntary production of crucial public health products: the sanitizing gel and masks that France urgently requires. Meanwhile, luxury ready-to-wear manufacturers are joining forces to produce covers for the resource-starved healthcare workers as the spread of the virus accelerates.

According to Jean-Paul Agon, the chairman and chief executive of L’Oreal was quoted, saying, “In this unprecedented crisis, it is our responsibility to contribute to the collective effort in every way possible.


Many luxury ready-to-wear manufacturers have also pitched in to help. The specialized companies that make the most demanding masks FFP2 and FFP3 to protect the healthcare workers requested brands to work at full capacity. In a more traditional charity model, brands are also making financial donations. Kering has donated to the Pasteur Institute, a nonprofit private foundation dedicated to the study of diseases and vaccines, to support its research into Covid-19. Italian brands, including Prada, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Kering-owned brands, and Bulgari, pledged donations to hospitals.


Conclusion –


As Carlo Capasa, chairman of Italy’s Camera Nazionale Della Moda says, “In a moment of need, fashion has proved that it stands with institutions and people.” Luxury companies have proved time and again that they are not just about profit and loss. Instead, they have the potential to lend support in the form of impressive logistical organization to public authorities. iDesigniBuy is a fashion tech company with customization solutions that support sustainable economy.

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