By Nelisa Khwela
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 3 of VARSITY News.
As the coronavirus pandemic worsens, many are seeking protective gear to reduce their chances of being infected. In a very short amount of time, the global demand for face masks for personal and medical use has skyrocketed and masks aren’t being produced quickly enough to meet the demand. This is where luxury fashion houses have stepped in to use their production facilities to produce non-surgical masks and other protective gear such as hospital gowns.
In addition to protective gear production, UK-based fashion company Burberry has funded food relief and Oxford’s research efforts in finding a vaccine. Dolce & Gabbana have also funded Covid-19 research at Italy’s Humanitas University. Ralph Lauren has pledged $10 million towards providing financial assistance to employees, WHO, and other charitable organisations. LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton, is using their makeup production facilities to manufacture free hand sanitisers for distribution in hospitals. Sustainable fashion brand, Reformation, has also switched to producing face masks for personal use and offers the option of buying masks to donate to others on their website.
On a surface level, one might think that these fashion houses are using this protective gear shortage for corporate gain by improving their brand perception. However, it’s good to see luxury brands shifting their focus from producing goods for the 1% to focusing their resources on production for the greater good. Even if their motivations have stemmed from industry ‘peer pressure’, these companies have collectively managed to produce over a million units of protective gear.
One could argue that because of their size and considerable influence, fashion brands are in a position to do even more during times of crisis. It is also still up for debate whether their actions are coming from a place of sincerity. However, even if they have felt pressured into doing something or not, they are taking some form of action which is something the world really needs right now.