The pandemic has brought life to a halt in many areas. New York is pretty much locked down. Las Vegas is empty, seeing its hotels and restaurants closed, its shows postponed, and even the beautiful art collections hosted by casinos off-limits for the public. The otherwise crowded center of the fashion world – Milan – is now deserted, with the vast majority of its shops closed, and its streets empty. And fashion brands all over the world are joining the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus, not only by postponing or cancelling their events but by lending a hand in producing much-needed supplies.

Joining the fight

Prada, COS and Louis Vuitton – these were among the first brands to announce they are shifting production capabilities from accessories and clothes to surgical masks. 

Prada has announced that it will be producing tens of thousands of medical overalls and more than 100,000 masks in its factory in Italy to ease the shortage of such equipment in Tuscany, Italy. The masks produced by Prada are not virus-proof – they are, in turn, useful in forming a barrier in front of the (potentially infected) wearer to slow the spread of the virus.

Dov Charney, founder of Los Angeles Apparel, and fashion designer Christian Siriano have also announced that their brands will produce cotton masks to help out. Charney expects his factories to be able to provide those in need with 300,000 face masks and 50,000 gowns, while Siriano has reassigned 10 seamstresses in New York to the task – they’ll be able to produce a few thousand masks each week.

Brands, like Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent, are preparing to produce masks in France, while their parent company Kering has announced it will purchase 3 million surgical masks from China to donate to the French health service. 

High-street brands like COS (H&M) and Zara (Inditex) have also pledged to shift at least part of their manufacturing capacity to the production of face masks, and so did Chanel, also donating 1.2 million euros to an emergency fund for the French public hospital system.

Not just fashion brands

Fashion brands are not the only ones lending a helping hand to the healthcare systems that are quickly becoming overwhelmed.

In the US, Amazon and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chang’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are helping ramp up testing in various areas. Alphabet’s Verily has also lent a helping hand in the triage of those in need of testing in California. Elon Musk’s Tesla has announced that it ordered more than 1,200 ventilators from China and had them shipped to Los Angeles, where SpaceX is based. And many have encouraged “big tech” companies are willing to work together on cloud-based solutions to better follow the evolution of the epidemic, to track the need for ventilators and other supplies, and help society get through this ordeal with as few victims as possible.