Fashion and beauty brands are using their factories to produce everything from hospital gowns to hand sanitizers.
As Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on communities across the world, fashion and beauty brands have announced plans to begin manufacturing products that will help prevent the infectious disease from spreading. LVMH joined the fight first when the luxury conglomerate announced Sunday that it would be turning its perfumes and cosmetics business into a hand sanitizer manufacturer and that it will distribute the sanitizers to French health authorities. The move was in response to shortages of the germ-fighting gel in France.
On Wednesday, L'Oréal leapt to humanity's aid by also offering up its factories to produce hand sanitizer. According to WWD, the beauty giant's brand La Roche-Posay will provide hydro-alcoholic gel to hospitals, nursing homes and main partnering pharmacies throughout Europe, while its other Garnier brand will dispense millions of units of the gel to all of its European clients in the food distribution channel.
"In this exceptional crisis situation it is our responsibility to contribute in every possible way to the collective effort," said Jean-Paul Agon, L'Oréal chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement to WWD. "Through these gestures, L'Oréal wishes to express its appreciation, support and solidarity with all those who mobilize with extraordinary courage and abnegation to fight against this pandemic."
Outside of the beauty realm, both small and large apparel brands have begun producing masks as the Coronavirus outbreak worsens. American Apparel's Dov Charney, offered up the workforce and management team behind his four-year-old label Los Angeles Apparel to manufacture masks or other medical products for "any government agency."
Later in the week and as the situation turned dire in Spain, Zara owner Inditex said it would produce hospital gowns and masks for patients and medical workers alike. Per a statement made to Vogue, the fast-fashion behemoth explained that it "will make a delivery at least once a week of materials we purchase directly."
In addition, the company said it is looking into switching some of its textile-manufacturing capacity over to the production of health materials. As of now, Inditex is only providing these much-needed products to people in Spain.
Hopefully as the number of Covid-19 cases and death toll rise, more companies around the world will use their manufacturing capacities to help combat the virus. We'll keep updating this post as we here about more life-saving production initiatives.
See updates here for every fashion and beauty retailer temporarily closing to help mitigate the spread of the virus here.
UPDATE, Thursday, March 19: Several indie beauty brands have pivoted their production focus to hand sanitizer as well. The founder of Skin Probiotics had been making hand gel on the side for years, but has made it her main project now that Covid-19 has threatened the country's supply. Similarly, Hudson Valley Skincare announced via Instagram that its suspended normal production to churn out hand sanitizers for its community.
The buzzy CBD category has also begun making disinfecting hand gel. There's now a CBD hand sanitizer and moisturizing spray from the brand Pure Bloom.
UPDATE, Friday, March 20: Guerlain is the latest beauty brand to join the global effort to minimize the spread of Covid-19. On Friday, the company sent out an official release stating that it has converted its La Ruche fragrance, makeup and skin-care factory and Orphin fragrance factory into hand sanitizer production sites. According to the statement, the disinfecting gel will not be for sale, but "it is freely being shared with French healthcare workers and hospitals" in hopes to "protect the doctors, nurses and hospital staff caring for others on the front line of this pandemic."
Los Angeles-based Big Bud Press, a brand that specializes in size-inclusive and unisex apparel, announced Friday via Instagram that it's also begun making masks to donate. "We'll be funding the project, buying the materials, paying for the sewing to keep these folks in work, and donating every mask we make," the post reads. "We're hoping to make around 100 to 200 masks a day." The masks will donated around Los Angeles and Chicago area hospitals, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities.
Brandon Maxwell also announced in an Instagram post that he is focusing his eponymous label's creative efforts on making medical gowns. "We have spent the last week researching the appropriate medical textiles to create these gowns and are proud to provide these much needed items to the doctors and nurses on the front lines," the post reads. "As more information becomes available on how to manufacture medical grade masks and gloves, we will transition in to doing so."
Meanwhile, as an equipment shortage for medical workers continues to be a pressing issues in Italy, Ermanno Scervino is stepping up to produce surgical masks. According to WWD, the luxury label is making masks certified by the Florence University that will be distributed at Tuscan hospitals.
UPDATE, Monday, March 23: Over the weekend, luxury conglomerates took action to address the shortage of necessary medical equipment to fight the spread of Covid-19. LVMH secured 40 million face masks from a Chinese industrial supplier; CEO Bernard Arnault arranged for the company to finance the whole first week of deliveries in France. Then Kering announced that it would purchase 3 million surgical masks that it will import from China and provide to French health services. The luxury group also said that Balenciaga and Saint Laurent plan to manufacture masks, while Gucci will be donating over a million surgical masks and 55,000 medical overalls in Italy.
On Monday, Prada revealed that its factory in Perugia will produce masks and medical overalls. The label plans to start daily deliveries to Tuscan hospitals of 80,000 overalls and 110,000 masks on April 6.
Nomasei, a luxury shoe brand started by two Chloé alums, is using its small, family-owned factory in Italy to produce protective masks for the rest of the country. In addition to providing necessary medical equipment, this project allows the company to keep its workers employed.
Outside of the luxury fashion world, H&M said on Sunday it would help curb the spread of the coronavirus by sourcing personal protective equipment for hospitals in the European Union. The retailer is still trying to figure out what its supply chain can deliver, but plans on focusing on masks, which are currently a top priority.
In the U.S., designer Michael Costello of "Project Runway" fame has responded to the mask shortage by partnering with a Calabasas-based manufacturer to produce 20,000 protective face masks. Per an official press release, Costello plans to donate them to medical professionals, first responders and hospitals in Los Angeles County.
Meanwhile, Prabal Gurung and Cynthia Rowley are following in Christian Siriano's footsteps to produce personal protective equipment for medical workers and first responders. Gurung revealed the news via Twitter, writing: "As a brand that produces over 90% of our collections in NY, our goal is not only to fill the void of critical PPE, but to mobilize our domestic partners, revitalizing U.S. producers and suppliers." Rowley shared the news on Instagram, writing that her team will continue to make masks until they run out of supplies.
Gelareh Mizrahi joined the the fight to stop the spread of Covid-19, posting on the brand's Instagram that she found a CDC- and EU-verified, NIOSH-approved factory and is raising money to purchase personal protective equipment — including N95 masks, goggles, face shields and gloves — for hospitals around the country. You can donate to the cause here.
As of Monday, Alabama Chanin is now focusing all of its manufacturing efforts on producing reusable masks. The brand is also working with hospitals on making gowns for patients and is hoping that it will be able to produce those later this week.
UPDATE, Tuesday, March 24: Zero waste clothing company For Days is the latest apparel brand to produce hospital masks. The label has pivoted all of its sewing capacity in Hawthorne, California to make reusable masks out of a double layer of cotton jersey. These masks can be worn over surgical masks for extended use. For Days is working with the Los Angeles Mayor's office to direct masks to the most needed places.
Similarly, Grisel Lopez, the Puerto Rican, nonbinary designer behind Brooklyn-based brand Possessed, has set out to provide much-needed masks for hospital workers. According to Paper, the designer is using PVC to manufacture clear, BDSM-leaning face masks that they first introduced for Fall 2020. The designer also posted the news on Instagram, writing that the masks "can be sanitized and reused with soap and water or alcohol."
Also over the weekend, Lafayette 148 New York partnered with the Economic Development Corporation and The Brooklyn Navy Yard to respond to the urgent call for personal protective equipment. Per an email release, a patternmaker employed by the brand created patterns for surgical gowns, which were then digitized and sent off for prototyping. They have sample makers on standby waiting for instructions from the group to start production as soon as the prototype is approved.
Kes is working on initiatives to contribute to the aid of this pandemic as well. In collaboration with Dr. Galit Sacajiu MD MPH, the clothing brand is shifting operations to produce sustainable and washable protective face masks.The masks will be available for purchase online.
Elsewhere, the bridal industry has taken action: The team at Carine's Bridal is sewing and delivering face masks to help with the shortage, and is asking for donations of funds or fabric. The Dessy Group also plans to import protective masks and gowns for healthcare workers in New York City from its factory partners in Asia.
On the beauty front, Estée Lauder announced the reopening of its Melville, New York manufacturing facility in order to produce hand sanitizer. In a statement confirming the news to WWD, a company spokesperson said "compensated, employee volunteers will support this vital, meaningful effort."
UPDATE, Wednesday, March 25: Eddie Bauer announced Tuesday evening that it is shifting portions of its production capacity to make N95 and surgical masks to help meet the high demand for personal protective equipment. The outdoors brand will donate masks to the State of Washington through the Department of Enterprise Services as early as next week.
Elsewhere in the U.S., Neiman Marcus and Joann stores have joined forces to make nonsurgical masks, gowns and scrubs starting Wednesday. The Dallas Morning News reported that the work is happening at Neiman Marcus alterations facilities in California, New Jersey and Florida. Meanwhile, Nordstrom teamed up with Kaas Tailored to have employees help sew masks that will be distributed by Providence Health in Seattle.
Gap Inc. revealed Wednesday that it is pivoting resources so that factory partners can make masks, gowns and scrubs for healthcare workers and is connecting some of the largest hospitals in California with its vendors to deliver PPE supplies. In addition to making these connections, Gap Inc. is working with its manufacturing partners to quickly explore using its excess garment capacity to produce fabric masks and protective gear that the hospitals need urgently.
Eileen Fisher stepped up Wednesday as well by partnering with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and the Economic Development Corporation to create gowns, masks and other personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.
Canada Goose is offering a helping hand to its community in Canada by opening two production units to make 10,000 scrubs and gowns to donate to hospitals.
In Spain, Mango has offered to distribute two million face masks among various Spanish hospitals using its own logistics system.
Over in France, Clarins is producing hand sanitizer at its industrial sites in Pontoise, Strasbourg and Amiens. Thus far, the beauty brand has delivered 14,500 bottles to hospitals. Similarly, L'Occitane has decided to reassign some of its facilities to manufacture 70,000 liters of hand sanitizer, which it will donate to health authorities in France. Along with the hand sanitizer, the beauty company is distributing 25,000 units of soap and hand cream to staff of the Paris university hospital trust.
Coty announced Wednesday that it is adjusting the production of some of its manufacturing sites to be able to provide free of charge, substantial quantities of hydro-alcoholic gel to medical and emergency services who are facing shortages due to the fast spreading virus. "As a responsible beauty company, we make our resources and facilities available to help the communities we are operating in during these exceptionally challenging time," said Coty CEO Pierre Laubies in an official press release."We are proud to support the brave professionals fighting on the frontlines against Covid-19 by providing hand sanitizer where it is needed."
UPDATE, Thursday, March 26: Several luxury labels, including Prada and Gucci, have joined the Covid-19 relief efforts abroad — and on Thursday Ralph Lauren did so in the U.S. The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation pledged $10 million to help the company's teams and communities impacted by the pandemic. On top of the donation, WWD reports that the company is working to assess the needs and technical requirements for medical-grade materials like masks and isolation gowns. As of the announcement, it's working on making 25,000 isolation gowns and 250,000 masks with its U.S. manufacturing partners.
Sanctuary is also using its resources to produce over 5 million N95 masks. "It's part of Sanctuary's company values to give back, so naturally we are doing our share," said Deb Polanco, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder in an official press statement. "We are happy to join this fight and do what we can to make a difference."
Following his large donations to hospitals in Italy earlier this month, Giorgio Armani announced on Thursday that all of the company's Italian production plants have switched to manufacturing single use medical overalls.
In the beauty world, Orly International is reconfiguring its Los Angeles-based nail polish factory operations to produce 75% alcohol-based hand sanitizer. According to an official press release from the brand, it will begin production by the end of March. The first batch of 10,000 units will be donated to the city of Los Angeles, while subsequent batches are expected to be available for sale by early April.
UPDATE, Friday, March 27: Uniqlo's parent company Fast Retailing has enlisted the help of its manufacturing partners in China to procure approximately 10 million protective masks. According to a press release from the company, it will donate 1.05 million masks to the U.S. starting early April through the New York State Government and it will donate 1 million masks to Italy beginning in late March via the Milan City Government. Another 1 million masks are to be donated to the Japanese government.
Meanwhile, Farouk Systems, Inc., the makers of Chi and BioSilk, have begun manufacturing FDA approved hand sanitizers with 77% by volume natural denatured alcohol and organically grown aloe vera. For the official launch, Chi is donating $1 million worth of its hand sanitizer to the cities of Houston and Tomball, Texas.