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Fashion Fighting Coronavirus

Scrolling through your news feed, you’re left with one-word ringing loud and clear through your ears – CORONAVIRUS. Open the homepage of your favourite news outlet and discover that every section has been taken over… ‘Coronavirus Explained’, ‘Coronavirus UK’, ‘Coronavirus Opinion’, and so it goes on. We chat to our families virtually, endlessly dissecting the horrors we are faced with, and try to find humour and a semblance of normality in the most banal of tasks.

But from all of this, offering people a sense of hope and joy, are the things that people and businesses are doing to help make a difference. Sunderland postal worker, Jon Matson has been delivering his round in fancy dress to “lift the spirits” of the community; a bearded man dressing up as the likes of Cleopatra and Little Bo Peep. In Stockport, two men have been jogging dressed as Spider-Man to spread joy. Whilst social media influencers have been taking part in their own kind of dressing-up, dress-up Friday, rather than the common dress-down Friday.

Within the fashion industry, it seems almost ironic to look back on the AW20 shows in February, both for the throngs of people that were present, and for some of the designs that were featured. Marine Serre’s collection included face masks, an ever-present reminder of the crisis we are facing. But Serre’s work has encompassed masks before, and her AW20 looks were designed before the outbreak took hold. Described previously as “anti-pollution masks”, it demonstrates fashions ability to mix frivolity with a serious message and now we read an even deeper meaning in the designs. As this crisis worsens, the fashion industry continues to use its influence, doing what it can to help combat Covid-19 at a faster rate, both practically and generously:

  • Luxury bridal company, Pronovias, a Catalonia-based brand, has launched a dedicated Heroes collection, in honour of brides-to-be serving in hospitals, and is offering engaged hospital workers a complimentary gown. Having first launched their #LoveConquersAll initiative in China at the start of 2020, Pronovias has now extended this offer to the UK, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Mexico, and the US. When so many couples have had to postpone their upcoming nuptials, it’s a reminder that, at the end of this, Love will conquer all!

  • We all know Burberry for its famous trench coat, a clothing symbol of Britain. The brand has announced that its dedicated trench coat factory is to change manufacturing to non-surgical gowns and masks for patients in UK hospitals; using its global supply network to help deliver 100,000 of these masks to NHS workers. And it doesn’t end there. Burberry are devoting funds into the research of a vaccine at the University of Oxford. PLUS, a promise to help tackle food poverty! Because we have to remember whilst some may be panic buying, there are many families financially unable to have that privilege.

Many luxury fashion brands are doing similar things to Burberry:

  • Bulgari’s fragrances manufacturer in Lombardy, one of the worst affected areas, will focus entirely on the production of hand sanitiser gel, at a rate of 6,000 units per day.

  • Luxury fashion conglomerate, Kering, is doing its bit, too. The owner of Balenciaga, Saint Laurent and Gucci, is manufacturing masks, and several of their brands have donated cash.

  • Likewise, LVMH, owner of Christian Dior, Givenchy and Guerlain, is distributing masks to French healthcare workers. At one of its factory’s outside Orléans, instead of the usual production of Christian Dior perfumes and cosmetics for Guerlain, production has begun on hand sanitisers.

  • Giorgio Armani has donated £1.8 million to hospitals across Italy, and The Armani Group announced the manufacturing of single-use medical overalls for healthcare workers.

  • And Prada has donated six intensive care units to hospitals in Milan, alongside the production of 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks.

All the above are vitally important and a real testament to the generous and thoughtful times we are living in. But it has been motivating, and further heart-warming, to find out what some British brands are doing, besides turning vast manufacturing sites into medical supply distributors:

  • Victoria Beckham’s fashion and beauty lines are donating 20 per cent of sales to the Trussell Trust in the UK, and Feeding America in the US, focusing on the need to feed ourselves and our family.

  • At Kurt Geiger, 2,000 employees are volunteering their time with Age UK as part of a volunteering scheme, as well as giving NHS workers 50 per cent discount in stores once they reopen.

  • The jewellery brand Missoma is gifting a specially-designed gold necklace to 100 NHS workers via Instagram. Highlighting that she’s aware a necklace isn’t a necessity, the founder, Marisa Hordern, said “we hope that by sending 100 members of NHS staff a small token, we can bring a little sparkle to their day.”

  • And, Net-A-Porter have redirected their delivery vans to delivering care packages to Age UK.

The High Street is similarly joining this list of giving:

  • Boden has collaborated with Helpforce, by providing nightwear and clothing to NHS staff that can’t return home at the end of their shifts, and to patients unable to get clothing from their family due to the risk of infection.

  • John Lewis is doing something similar by donating ‘comfort items’, such as pillows, phone chargers and hand cream to NHS staff, along with 50,000 Easter treats to make breaks more comfortable.

Now we can all admit that these acts of kindness can be viewed as savvy marketing for any company. Customers will remember these actions for years to come and brands who don’t offer assistance may suffer as a result. But it helps all of us to look at it more affably. As their sales and businesses suffer, by doing their bit to combat Covid-19, these brands are helping to get everything back on track as soon as possible, and, in the meantime, helping to save lives, too.

For all of us, it’s hard to escape any Corona reference, but here, at least, these stories can offer us some sense of optimism and the hope that, come September, the SS21 catwalk shows will be happening and able to provide us with escapism. The escapism which is nearer to our norm than the current trend.

Keep safe.

Imagery courtesy of Vogue and the BBC

About Our Author: Katie Calvert's background is in fashion and textiles with a first class honours degree in Fashion Communication and Promotion and experience in trend, PR and events. She decided to take the plunge back into education in 2015 to complete a Master of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Using these newfound skills and her love of fashion and culture, Katie has been freelance writing for over a year.

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