• Olivia Hansen

What is the fashion industry doing to help fight Covid-19?

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

Covid-19 has brought the world to a standstill. Normal life has changed and most major cities have now been put on lockdown for the foreseeable future. As the world battles this novel respiratory virus, with (at the time of writing) over 800,000 global cases, I think it is best to look at the positive and inspiring lengths that the fashion industry is doing during these unprecedented times.

The fashion industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, “with the MSCI Europe Textiles, Apparel & Luxury Goods Index reporting a 23% drop and $152 billion in market value erased from the industry from January 17 to March 11”, Business Insider reported. But, this hasn’t stopped luxury fashion houses like LVMH, Chanel and Armani from donating money and adapting their facilities to contribute in any way that they can to help those that are being affected by coronavirus.

In January, during the early stages of the outbreak, LVMH, the worlds biggest luxury conglomerate, donated over $2 million to The Red Cross Society of China. Since then the company has turned its perfume factories, which normally bottle make fragrances for Dior, Givenchy and Guerlain will start producing hand sanitisers, and is set to order over 40 million face masks from China to help France deal with its shortage of medical supplies. The company wrote a statement saying, “Through this initiative, LVMH intends to help address the risk of a lack of product in France and enable a greater number of people to continue to take the right action to protect themselves from the spread of the [coronavirus],” and commented that they would do this for as it was needed. AFP reports that the company will be able to make 12 tons of hand sanitiser this week alone.

On Sunday the 29th of March, Chanel also released a statement that they would be turning their workshops into face mask factories. “Today we are mobilizing our workforce and our partners… to produce protective masks and blouses”, the luxury house released in a statement. The New York Times mentions that, “France was using 40 million face masks per week. Doctors, nursing home carers and police have complained of shortages.”

Meanwhile Gucci is donating €2m in support of two crowdfunding campaigns – one in Italy (for the Italian Civil Protection Department) and the other one at a global level – to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, British GQ published in a recent article. Alessandro Michele, creative director if Gucci, said of the move, “This pandemic calls us to an unexpected task, but it is a call to which we respond decisively, advocating the selfless work carried out by health workers, doctors and nurses on the front lines everyday in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Italy has sadly found itself as the epicentre of the virus in Europe, however Italian fashion houses are making sure that any medical shortages are being replenished. Business Insider reported that Prada’s co-CEO’s Muiccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, have donated two resuscitation and complete intensive care units to each hospital in Milan. Prada also told the Business Insider that that they had started the production of 80,000 hospital gowns and 110,000 face masks, which will be given to healthcare professionals.

Meanwhile the French label, Moncler announced that it will donate €10 million towards the construction of a new hospital in Milan that has 400 intensive care units. In a statement posted on their Instagram page, the company’s CEO Remo Ruffini wrote, “Milan is a city that has given us all an extraordinary time. We cannot and must not abandon it. It is everyone’s duty to give back to the city that has given us so much.” Donatella Versace, Giorgio Armani, Marco Bizzarri, the CEO of Gucci, have all donated to Italian hospitals as well.

In global news, The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation stated that they will start making 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns in the US, and that they will also be donating $10 million towards the global response to the pandemic.

Vogue’s editor and chief Anna Wintour, along with Tom Ford, chairman of the Council Of Fashion Designers of America, the CFDA, have launched A Common Thread, a new fundraising initiative, which helps members of the American fashion community what have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Vogue reported, “we are launching a video series called A Common Thread, which will tell stories about how American designers and their workers and colleagues are coping, howe businesses have been affected, what we all plan to do to move forward. These stories will go behind the scenes to shoe everyone who contributes to this creative, vibrant, and incredibly important industry.”

Closer to home, the British Fashion Council is making a £1,000,000 of emergency funds available with the majority supporting designer businesses, and with a portion of funds also allocated to students, underpinning the future generation of creative talent.

Although I have only mentioned a handful of fashion brands that have donated money and/or medical equipment, there are so many brands that despite retail sales being hit have made sure to give something back to their communities. Positivity may be a precious commodity right now, but through our actions, and working together we can prove our resistance and strength in these unprecedented times.

* All sources have been tagged

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