Trading hand bags and high heels for hand sanitizers and face masks: how luxury fashion is tackling Covid-19
It is no secret that the fashion industry as a whole has been particularly hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with store closures, supplier shortages and the drop in consumer spending. However, in the face of adversity, major players within the industry have stepped up to devote their time, effort and finances to make a difference. From manufacturing hand sanitisers, face masks and surgical gowns to donating profits to charities supporting health workers, we commend the fashion industry’s philanthropic efforts and take a look at what some of the biggest names in fashion are doing to help.
Major global luxury retail player Burberry has taken a three-pronged approach to tackling the pandemic by focussing on supporting the hospitals, the search for a vaccine and communities. Firstly, it has stepped up to relieve some of the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages affecting healthcare workers on the frontline. Burberry has committed to drawing on its well-established global supply chain network to expedite the delivery of 100,000 surgical masks to the NHS. Burberry has also announced plans to repurpose its iconic trench coat factory based in Yorkshire to instead produce non-surgical gowns and face masks for patients. Secondly, the luxury fashion brand has also considered how it can influence long-term solution efforts to combat Covid-19 and has helped to fund research undertaken by the University of Oxford to produce a single-dose vaccine against the virus. In April the university became the first institute in Europe to begin human trials of the proposed vaccine. Lastly, the business has pledged to help tackle the consequential food poverty across the UK during the pandemic, by donating to charities such as FareShare and The Felix Project.
Michael Kors, Versace & Jimmy Choo
Capri Holdings, the owner of iconic brands such as Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo has pledged $3 million to help assist with Covid-19 aid relief initiatives in universities and hospitals in New York, Italy and the UK. Versace, in particular, is focussing its efforts on providing funds to hospitals which are in desperate need of ventilators and other life-saving medical equipment, with the founder herself (Donatella Versace) making a personal donation to the intensive care unit of a hospital in Milan. Closer to home, Jimmy Choo is donating $250,000 to the UK’s NHS and the World Health Organisation’s Solidarity Response Fund.
Ralph Lauren’s Corporate Foundation has focussed its efforts in making donations to various charities, hospitals, foundations and emergency funds. In the UK, the Foundation has donated to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity to support The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to purchase vital testing equipment. This is particularly important as this will enable cancer patients, which are significantly more vulnerable to the impacts of Covid-19, to be tested and continue with their treatment. On a global scale, the brand has pledged $10 million to the Emergency Assistance Foundation for Ralph Lauren and the World Health Organisation Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. As with other leading luxury brands, the Ralph Lauren Corporation is tackling the lack of PPE by commencing production of 250,000 masks and isolation gowns.
As France continues to curb the spread of Covid-19, the owner of Louis Vuitton, LVMH, has dedicated its factories, usually used to produce perfume and make-up, to manufacture large quantities of hand sanitizer in an attempt to curb the shortage of anti-bacterial products in the country. LVMH is also donating around 40 million masks in France after it sourced the highly sought-after product from a Chinese supplier. The fashion giant has pledged to support the French health authorities for as long as necessary.
Although Net-a-Porter has temporarily closed its distribution centre in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has still committed to utilising its resources on the Covid-19 front. The online luxury fashion retailer is supporting the Emergency Designer Network (EDN) made up of designers recognised by Net-a-Porter’s own “The Next Green Talents” competition in 2019. They have teamed up with Make It British and Fashion Roundtable to help local UK manufacturers and designers to produce fundamental PPE such as robes, scrubs and masks. Use of the brand’s premier delivery service fleet of vans named the “Volunteered Vehicles” will then help to ensure a smooth logistical process of transporting such PPE to healthcare workers on the frontline.
This isn’t the first venture for Net-a-Porter in contributing to the Covid-19 fight, as the online retailer also provided 100 laptop for Italian school children following the shortage of hardware supplies highlighted by the Italian government. It also created a series of digital education webinars for the Ministry’s digital education learning platform.
In addition to the PPE manufacturing efforts, a vast majority of fashion and retail brands have gone one step further to forge a personal touch with customers by offering exclusive discounts and giveaways to NHS workers and other key workers of the pandemic. International luxury brand Kate Spade are offering customers the opportunity to nominate key workers in the local community to be selected as a winner of their giveaway of 100 designer bags. The New York-based designer brand has also partnered with global not-for-profit organisation “crisis text line” to provide crisis counselling for essential medical workers. The Kate Spade New York foundation has also donated USD 100,000 in seed funding to this cause.
British fashion brand Mulberry has also joined the Covid-19 efforts by making use of its Somerset-based factory to create over 8000 reusable gowns for key workers of the Bristol NHS Trust. Mulberry has shared details of the strict government guidelines it will follows in ensuring the gowns are reusable by incorporating specially-sourced materials that is fluid-resistant and washable to ensure they are suitable and safe for non-surgical use. Mulberry has also established the #MulberryHeroes nominations via its Instagram channel, allowing followers and customers to nominate key workers each week with selected “heroes” to receive a Mulberry gift.
It’s unlikely that global retailers ever imagined leveraging their well-established supply chains, in-house manufacturing and production expertise to aid the healthcare industry in the midst of a global pandemic. However, the re-direction of the retail industry’s resources and efforts are making a real difference to combating the Covid-19 pandemic in many ways from pledging to help with the shortfall in PPE on the front line to funding research into a potential vaccine as well as supporting communities affected during this time. In true fashion, the luxury retail industry has risen to the challenge.
For more information about how we can support your business during the current pandemic, see our Covid-19 hub here.
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