Fashion stands united all over the world as the fight continues against COVID-19.
It’s no secret; over the past few weeks we’ve witnessed our world come to a standstill. For most of us, these times are unparalleled. Unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetime. The highly contagious respiratory disease, also known as COVID-19 has stopped the world and in turn - the operation of our ‘normal’ lives. At the time of writing this article, the UK is entering week three of total lock down. Under strict orders and an obligation to stick to government guidelines in order to prevent the spread and ‘protect our NHS.’
There is some slight comfort though, the UK is not alone - we’re facing these unprecedented times alongside many of our foreign neighbours far and wide, standing in solidarity as we all try to protect ourselves and those most vulnerable.
The fashion industry, like many other industries worldwide, has taken a noticeable hit. Fashion houses have stopped the production of collections which have been years in the making, and many annual gatherings fundamental in the fashion calendar have been postponed indefinitely, with the iconic ‘Met Gala’ the latest to join the list.
All over the world fashion houses are stepping back from the fast paced nature of fashion weeks and dressing high profile celebrities - but instead dressing our brave careers and front line hospital staff no matter their social class or status. Providing hospital staff with masks, scrubs and gowns to ensure they have the appropriate protection when dealing with the sickest patients.
The fashion industry as a collective has pledged to do their bit no matter how big or small, an obligation that has been felt by fashion houses globally.
“In challenging times, we must pull together”
The words of Burberry’s CEO, Marco Gobbetti in a formal statement published on Burberry’s website on Saturday 28th. Gobbetti announced that the company is planning to “retool” one of the iconic factories, previously world renowned for manufacturing the iconic Burberry Trench coat. Situated in the heart of Yorkshire, the factory will now produce non-surgical gowns and masks to be distributed to NHS staff all over the UK.
The company has also been taking active steps into funding and supporting the discovery of a single-dose vaccine. Burberry has pledged a donation to Oxford University to support the search, as well as donating to UK based charities Fare-Share and The Felix Project, charities which are committed to putting an end to food poverty in the UK.
Further afield, one of the first fashion houses to set precedent and contribute towards the fight was LVMH (Louis Vuitton) they initially donated £1.78 million to The Red Cross based in China, as well as retooling their perfume and cosmetic factories to manufacture hydro-alcoholic gel and vowing to manufacture 40 million medical masks.
Other fashion brands have pledged to contribute towards supporting financially and vowing to donate millions to charitable causes and organisations alike. Gucci is supporting two crowdfunding campaigns by donating €1m to both. One of the charities is The Italian Civil Protection Department, which is taking local action to support the fight. The other is a charity reaching a global scale the World Health Organisation COVID-19 solidarity fund.
Marco Bizzari, Gucci’s president and CEO, said:
“We ask all of you to be the change makers in this crisis to stand together with us in the fight against the corona-virus. We are all in this together.”
It’s not just fashion houses that feel obliged to do their bit. Established stylists Anna Rose Vitiello and Bettina Looney have organised a weekly wardrobe clear out and sell their items on their Instagram stories. All of the proceeds are being split between two deserving charities, Doctors Without Borders and Help Them Help Us. Luxury resale site Vestiaire Collective are also using this initiative, stars including Kate Moss and Thandie Newton are donating their beloved clothing in the hope of raising money for charities including Fondation Hôpitaux de France-Paris, the World Health Organisation and Lombardy Regional Fundraising.
Anna Wintour, Vogue's Editor in chief admits she ‘broke down’ when she heard the news that American designer Ralph Lauren announced he would be donating $10 million to COVID-19 relief efforts. He also announced he would be offering financial support for employees struggling with childcare, medical bills and care for the elderly. In a press release written on the brands site, Ralph Lauren wrote
“Now more than ever, in this time of need, supporting each other has become our mission.”
Admittedly it’s refreshing to see the fashion industry united as a collective, rather than the stereotypical shoulder barging or designers ripping off other designers ideas. The fashion industry pledging to do their bit has been well received all over the globe and hopefully these efforts will contribute to ending this global pandemic.
Written by Libby Dunne for Fashion Fiesta 2020