The COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop on the fashion world after a week of event cancellations, travel restrictions, and self-isolation laws around the world. I know this sounds strange to say in the “Style” section of Uproxx but uh, fashion? It’s not an essential service, which is why fashion houses and designers are heeding the call of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who, in a desperate plea for medical supplies asked American’s to get “creative.” Designers like American Apparel’s Dov Charney (now Los Angeles Apparel), Christian Siriano (of Project Runway fame), and swimwear company Karla Colletto have converted their factories and supply chains to the manufacturing of the personal protective equipment (PPE) our front line health workers so desperately need.
According to The New York Times, Siriano has reassigned his 10 New York seamstresses to make surgical masks, with the goal of producing a few thousand per week. Charney has also been producing masks in his L.A.-based 150,000 square-foot factory and plans on beginning the construction of surgical gowns this week. The Virginia-based Karla Colletto factory has been closed but is currently retooling to join the effort to provide PPE equipment and should be operational this week, with plans on replicating the type of medical-grade masks made by 3M. Christian Siriano has plans to make his masks “medical grade” once he acquires the approved materials.
The luxury market is also getting in on the supply chain elsewhere in the world, Bloomberg reports that in France, Balenciaga and Saint Laurent are awaiting approval from health authorities to begin constructing masks for French hospitals, and have already collectively donated 3 million masks to China. LVMH has also converted its Christian Dior and Givenchy cosmetic and perfume factories into producing hand sanitizer. Gucci is currently awaiting approval from health authorities in Italy to produce over a million masks.
Don’t be surprised if fashion labels worldwide figure out a way to turn this into a commercial product when this pandemic is over. Expensive after-market Gucci surgical masks? Bet on it!