From making masks to donating wedding gowns, here's how the fashion industry is helping fight coronavirus

From making masks to donating wedding gowns, here's how the fashion industry is helping fight coronavirus
Pia Fischer, a Berlin fashion designer, sews masks in Berlin, Germany (Getty Images)

The world is in utter chaos amid the coronavirus pandemic that is still surging steadily and disrupting daily life. The alarming increase in cases has brought about lockdowns in various affected countries across the globe. In an attempt to contain the spread of the disease, governments have encouraged the practice of self-isolation and social distancing during this crisis. 

Just as it has taken a toll on social lives, COVID-19 has also impacted the economy. Businesses have rapidly shut down and implemented work-from-home for their employees, while many have also laid off their workers. The food industry, film and music industry and the beauty and hospitality industry are among those that are incurring huge losses as governments have instated bans on public gatherings or limited them.

In a similar way, the fashion industry has also suffered greatly. The virus has plagued the global fashion capitals, causing cancellations and postponement of major fashion-related events. Retail stores and fashion companies have been forced to lay off employees while closing major offices and outlets around the globe. They are struggling to cope with the recession that has begun to trouble the economy, as their customer base and their fashion needs dwindle due to the crisis.

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COVID-19 has mandated people to remain isolated in the comfort of their homes, which to a certain extent has boosted online fashion sales, but not drastically. Most luxury companies have been forced to shut down simply because of a deficit via online shopping.

As is the case with myriad fashion houses, most are turning to alternative measures to ensure business for their company. Some big names in the industry are now using all their available resources to aid not only health workers by providing safety gear, but also the general public in need. The havoc the virus has wreaked has led to a whole lot of panic buying and scarcity in essentials. In the days leading up to the disease being officiated a 'pandemic', many stores experienced a shortage in hand sanitizers, masks, soaps and various other products that are deemed to help prevent contracting the disease. 

Even high-end brands, for that matter, are jumping on the bandwagon to assist with subduing the coronavirus disease. LVMH, the multinational company that owns Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, and Christian Dior, announced that it would use the facilities in its French perfumeries to produce hand sanitizers and deliver it free of charge to the French authorities.

The parent company of Gucci and Balenciaga, Kering, also pledged that it would facilitate its French home country with 3 million surgical masks, purchased and imported from China. Gucci has manufactured and donated some 1.1 million surgical masks and 55,000 medical overalls for health services in Italy, the nation most devastated by COVID-19 as of today.

Mayhoola and Valentino have also donated $21,83,910 (€2 million) to Milan's Socco Hospital. Donatella Versace, the creative director of Versace, has donated $200,000 towards intensive care towards Milan's San Raffaele Hospital. Early last month, Bulgari contributed to the research department at the Istituto Lazzaro Spallanzani in Rome, which was working to purchase a microscopic image acquisition system to help fight and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Giorgio Armani donated nearly $1.4 million to various hospitals around Italy, namely those larger establishments in Rome and Milan.

Independent designers have also joined forces to aid with generous donations and other forms of support. US-based designer Christian Siriano has reorganized his studio and tailors to sew masks and combat the shortage. Pyer Moss has also stepped up to help smaller creative businesses that are suffering a bad financial hit by setting aside $50,000 from its funds, while also converting its New York headquarters into a donation center.

Pia Fischer, Berlin fashion designer sets a protective mask on a display window in her shop on March 24, 2020, in Schöneberg district Berlin, Germany (Getty Images).

The Clara Lionel Foundation, Rihanna's non-profit organization has said it would donate $5 million to establishments working to provide coronavirus relief services. Swedish brand H&M will manufacture gloves, scrubs and face masks for hospitals located across the European Union and Inditex, the parent company of Spanish brand Zara will produce hospitals gowns in the manufacturing units of its home country.

Indian designer Anita Dongre has set aside ₹15 million (approximately $200,000) as a medical fund “to support their smaller vendors, self-employed artisans, and partners who do not have medical insurance or coverage to prepare for medical emergencies arising from COVID-19." Other fashion houses taking preventive measures and reaching out to support its employees during this crucial time are Sabyasachi, Tarun Tahiliani and Prabal Gurung and Giorgio Armani among many. American fashion designer Brandon Maxwell is also producing face masks and in addition, giving away wedding gowns to brides in need.

With supplies taking a nosedive as we continue to battle the raging coronavirus, fashion brands stepping up to provide preventive services and aiding health care is a silver lining among these dark times.

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