Stylefyle
Coronavirus Fashion Forward

Hi there and a warm welcome to Stylefyle, I’m Jen Su.  This week we’re going to talk about how the fashion industry has stepped up to the plate during the coronavirus crisis, and are pivoting from making dresses, jeans, and handbags – to making surgical face masks and other protective gear for hospitals and the general public, during the coronavirus crisis.

The number of social media videos around making “do it yourself” masks, has also skyrocketed and is getting people to sew and create their own facemasks, like never before.

The fashion industry around the US and Europe these days had gone into lockdown, with stores and factories closed, mainly by government orders, to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  But in recent days, the lights have gone on again, as designers and manufacturers are using their textile skills to make up for the growing shortage in face masks.   

Los Angeles Apparel is making surgical masks – and it will make hospital gowns as well. Dov Charney, the company’s founder and the former head of American Apparel, hopes his 150,000-square-foot factory can produce 300,000 masks and 50,000 gowns in a week.

Renowned fashion designer and “Project Runway” star Christian Siriano, has reassigned his 10 seamstresses in New York. They are beginning to make masks and hope to produce a few thousand a week.  Swimwear company Karla Colletto plans to reopen its factory to produce personal protective hospital gowns for health care workers. 

They aren’t making the N95 medical respirator masks, but they are responding to government calls for businesses to aid in combating the shortage of general medical supplies.   Christian Siriano and American Apparel are designing their own reusable, washable masks.

They’re not medical grade but he hopes to make masks that meet FDA standards as soon as he can acquire approved materials and patterns and begin production. Karla Colletto is planning to replicate masks made by 3M, using patterns and fabric sent from that long-established hospital supplier.

And in Europe, Louis Vuitton, L’Oreal and Coty, have been using their facilities to produce large quantities of hand sanitizer for European hospitals.  In Spain, Inditex, the parent company of Zara, has also been refitting its textile factories to make hospital gowns. 

Both Inditex and LVMH have used their distribution networks to gain access to Chinese manufacturers of face masks; LVMH ordered 40 million face masks from a Chinese supplier, bound for France.

The first 10 million masks will begin arriving on Wednesday, and amount to 5 million euros, paid for by Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH. Inditex had shipped 10,000 face masks from China and were expected to ship another 300,000.

As the fashion industry and the rest of the world continue to face challenges with the coronavirus pandemic, the sooner we can create conditions to help others, and make the best use of our facilities to help those in need, the better off we’ll all be.  Stay safe, stay healthy – for Stylefyle, I’m Jen Su. 

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2020-03-30 by Jennifer Su
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