With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, the fashion market is facing a vertiginous drop. Most luxury brands have issued profit warnings and lowered revenue forecasts. The pandemic has caused a collapse in the fashion industry as most of the luxury brands are based in Europe. In the meantime, fashion weeks have also been called off.

“We have closed all our shops in France and some other European countries based on the request of the respective governments.” On 15 March, Hermes, one of the world’s leading luxury brand, has shut down all of its French production sites, totalling to about 40 manufacturers and tannery factories.

Prior to that, Gucci, an iconic Italian luxury brand, had also closed its factories in Tuscany and Marche, and said the business’ closure could be extended because several regions are in a lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate.

Chanel, one of the bellwethers in the fashion industry, stated that it would temporarily close down all production sites in France, Switzerland and Italy for two weeks, on 18 March.

No one anticipated that the coronavirus outbreak would hit the heart of the fashion market in an instant. The luxury industry, which regards its production sites as the respective brands’ quality benchmarks, was plunged into an unprecedented situation.

The butterfly effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt around the world. Hand sanitisers, protective garments and respirators are luxury items now. The Centres for Disease Control officially recommended widespread use of masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. This has caught the attention of the fashion industry.

Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images

The Prevention Equipment by Luxury Brands

The COVID-19 crisis has caused fashion brands to refocus their businesses and identify a common goal: to address the urgent need for the production of prevention equipment for the coronavirus crisis – face masks, hand sanitisers and medical gowns.

Louis Vuitton and Prada are among the leading brands of fashion that produces surgical masks in response to the COVID-19 shortage.

In arranging to supply defensive equip to healthcare specialities, Louis Vuitton has repurposed a few Masion’s ateliers over France to produce surgical masks and gowns.

At the same time, Louis Vuitton will give hundreds of thousands of much required non-surgical masks for cutting edge healthcare workers.

Photograph: Louis Vuitton
Photograph: Louis Vuitton

In the meantime, Louis Vuitton is releasing a luxury face shield which was designed to be “both stylish and protective”, the French fashion house said in a statement.

The shield of the protective mask is fixed to an elastic band, with gold rivets that sport the Louis Vuitton’s logo on the side. The shield transitions from clear to dark under sunlight, much like the progressive lenses of sunglasses and spectacles, thus protecting the wearer’s eyes. Simultaneously, it can be turned into a trendy hat when flipped.

Photograph: Louis Vuitton

Italy was one of the worse-hit countries of the COVID-19 pandemic. On 16 March, Prada gave six seriously care units to clinics in Milan and on 18 March reported that it had begun the production of 80,000 medical gowns and 110,000 masks after a call from Tuscany locale.

Photograph: Prada
Photograph: Prada

Factories that usually produce makeup and perfume for brands like Christian Dior will also start to produce hand sanitisers, and will do so for as long as necessary, according to BBC News.

Photograph: SLEEK News

Saint Laurent and Balenciaga are slated to manufacture their own face masks for France. Whereas Gucci will produce and give over 1,000,000 masks and 55,000 medical gowns to Italy.

Photograph: Kirill Kukhmar via Getty Images

The Prevention Equipment by Local Brands

World-renowned brands are not the only ones producing face masks, hand sanitisers and medical gowns. Local fashion designers, clothing brands and tailors are joining forces to sew reusable masks for Singapore’s migrant community and healthcare frontline workers.

Fashion brand Klarra’s design team has donated a batch of reusable non-medical masks to Project Masks by the People’s Association Women’s Integrated Network Council. At the same time, bridal designer Fatimah Mohsin launched an independent project to produce washable masks for frontline workers in Singapore.

Photograph: Instagram/Klarra
Photograph: Instagram/fatimahmohsin

Local brand CYC, founded in 1935, is producing 300,000 reusable masks for migrant workers and also engaged the help of volunteers to distribute them. All of their masks come with a water-repellent anti-viral filter, and is washable up to 15 times.

Photograph: CYC

Students in the time of COVID-19

The prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is the responsibility of people all over the world. Agata Maureen, former student from MDIS School of Fashion Design, decided to contribute to the curbing of the spread of the pandemic by launching IKIMOMO, a personal online brand that designs washable masks using breathable fabric. People can customise their reusable mask.

Photograph: Instagram/IKIMOMO

While the fashion industry has designed various prevention equipment to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also inspired us to be more enthusiastic and creative. The prevention of the further spread of the pandemic is the responsibility of the whole world. Let’s work together in curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help the frontline workers where we can!


Louise Loh

Published by
Louise Loh

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