Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 3 April 2020

Coronavirus: fashion houses around the world are helping in the fight against Covid-19

The likes of Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Valentino and even H&M are all playing their part

Giorgio Armani had donated funds to help Italian hospitals fight Covid-19. Jeff Topping / The National
Giorgio Armani had donated funds to help Italian hospitals fight Covid-19. Jeff Topping / The National

With the Covid-19 virus still spreading globally, more and more fashion houses are stepping up to do their bit.

On Thursday, March 26, Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation became the latest in a long list of design brands to commit to the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic by announcing a donation of $10 million to help teams, partners and communities impacted.

"At the heart of our company, there has always been a spirit of togetherness that inspires our creativity, our confidence and most importantly our support for one another. In the past weeks and months, that spirit has never wavered. We believe that no matter who you are or where you are from, we are all connected. That is why we are taking significant action to help our teams and communities through this crisis," a comment from Ralph Lauren, executive chairman and chief creative officer, read.

The move includes providing financial grants for colleagues facing special circumstances like medical, eldercare or childcare needs; and contributing to the World Health Organization Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, among other initiatives.

In addition to that, the brand has pledged to start the production of 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns with American manufacturing partners.

In the last few weeks, luxury houses Saint Laurent and Balenciaga both announced that their workshops in France would be given over to the production of surgical face masks, instead of clothes, while parent company Kering Group will be donating an additional three million masks to the French healthcare system.

Gucci, also part of the Kering stable, has announced that it aims to produce one million face masks in the coming days for Italian health services.

Meanwhile Dolce & Gabbana has made a large (but undisclosed) financial donation to the Humanitas University in Italy, as it conducts urgent research into the virus.

Moncler, the high-end jacket label, has vowed to help finance the building of a new hospital in Milan dedicated to Covid-19 patients. Announced by the company's chairman and chief executive, Remo Ruffini, $10.9 million has been donated towards the 270,000-square-foot facility, which will have over 400 intensive care units. With construction well under way already, the new specialist hospital is expected to open in less than two weeks.

Just as high-street brand Zara has said it will donate over 300,000 masks by the end of this week, Swedish giant H&M has also stated that it will restructure its supply chain to produce protective hospital gowns instead. Spanish company Mango has declared its intention to donate up to two million face mask to hospitals in Spain, where it is based.

The parent company of Valentino and Balmain, Mayhoola, is gifting almost Dh8 million to hospitals in Milan, an are struggling with large numbers of infections.

Italy is the European country hardest hit by the virus, with more than 59,000 cases and close to 6,000 deaths; it is also where many of the most exclusive fashion brands are based.

Prada’s holding company, Prada S.p.A., announced that it will be funding two brand new intensive care units in hospitals in Milan, while Donatella Versace and her daughter Allegra Versace Beck, of the label Versace, have vowed to also donate $200,000 (Dh734,500) to Milanese intensive care units.

Donatella Versace, seen here at the spring summer 2020 Versace show, has made a donation to Italian hospitals. Reuters
Donatella Versace, seen here at the spring summer 2020 Versace show, has made a donation to Italian hospitals. Reuters

The jewellery house Bulgari has made an undisclosed contribution to the Istituto Lazzaro Spallanzani in Rome, a research body aiming to purchase a microscopic image acquisition system that will help advance treatment and prevention of the virus. Sesigner Giorgio Armani is gifting EUR1.25 million to several hospitals in both Milan and Rome.

Giuseppe Santoni, the chief executive officer of the shoe brand, Santoni, meanwhile has kicked off a fund raiser with a EUR50,000 donation, destined for hospitals and institutions in the Marche region of Italy, where the brand is based.

The chief executive officer of Gucci, Marco Bizzarri, has personally gifted $100,000 to hospitals in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, which has one of the highest infection rates in the country. Another shoe brand, Sergio Rossi, has donated over $100,000 to two of the largest hospitals in Milan.

Fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni and husband Fedez are donating EUR100,000 to a GoFundMe fund-raiser for additional intensive care beds at Milan’s San Raffaele hospital. So far, over EUR4 million has been raised.

New York label Christian Siriano has announced it is repurposing its workshop to make face masks for the American city's health care workers.

Announcing the news on Twitter, the designer said, “If @NYGovCuomo says we need masks my team will help make some. I have a full sewing team still on staff working from home that can help.”

Christian Siriano has announced it will begin making face masks for New York health care workers. AP
Christian Siriano has announced it will begin making face masks for New York health care workers. AP

The team of 10 workers are expected to be able to produce several thousand of the washable, reusable masks per week, which the company stresses are not ‘medical grade’.

The designer, who is famous for Project Runway, embracing body diversity on the catwalk, and regularly dressing the likes of Michelle Obama has declared that his label intends to make masks to the standard used by medical professionals (N95), as quickly as the correct materials and approvals are secured.

In reply to Siriano’s tweet, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo accepted the designer's pledge and urged others others to follow suit. “We’re in contact with [Siriano]. Appreciate his help so much. Who’s next? Let’s do this together, NY!” he replied.

On the west coast of America, the company Los Angeles Apparel (founded by ex-American Apparel owner, Don Charney) is already producing face masks and hopes to re-purpose its 150,000 square foot factory to make up to 300,000 masks and 50,000 hospital gowns per week for “any government agency” in need.

Updated: March 27, 2020 11:12 AM

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