The Fashion Industry Fights Back
By Erin Garry
In this series, Monumental's Editor-in-Chief Erin Garry shares happenings, important developments, and breaking news from the fashion community and related industries.
COVID-19 rapidly changed life as we know it. Sports? Canceled. Work? From Home. Major life events? Postponed. Industries are taking major hits left and right, and the fashion industry is no exception. Despite the cancellation of fashion weeks and significant events like the annual MET Gala, industry members big and small are coming together to face this new reality.
Brands and designers, expecting a 27 to 30 percent decline in global revenues due to interrupted supply chains and weakening consumer demand, may be reducing planned production, but that does not mean their manufacturers and design teams are slowing down. Designers have stepped up to produce face masks and other personal protective equipment for healthcare professionals in critical need. In the United States, Christian Siriano employed his skilled seamstresses to sew face masks and medical gowns for New York healthcare workers. Brandon Maxwell and Prabal Gurung are reallocating their materials for the production of such equipment while mobilizing fellow designers to do the same. Internationally, LVMH, which houses the likes of LOEWE, Celine and Dior, donated $2.2 million to the Red Cross in China and is producing hand sanitizer for the French government at no cost in their fragrance and cosmetic factories.
In addition to manufacturing PPE, fashion moguls in Italy particularly are making large donations to support their overwhelmed healthcare system. Giorgio Armani proactively decided to cancel his Milan FW20 show in late February and instead livestream the collection as the pandemic spread throughout northern Italy. Armani additionally donated 1.25 million euros to various hospitals and health organizations, and took out advertisements in over 60 Italian newspapers to honor healthcare workers fighting the virus.
Italian national pride is as robust as ever. Milan’s hospitals have seen an influx of support as Miuccia Prada, and Patrizio Bertelli funded six new intensive care units for three different hospitals. Donatella Versace followed suit by donating 200,000 euros to the intensive care unit of San Rafaelle, in addition to forgoing her salary for the 2021 fiscal year. The fashion world lost Sergio Rossi, known for his iconic shoemaking craftsmanship, to the coronavirus last week. His eponymous label is donating all proceeds from online sales to help Italy fight the pandemic. Milan-based blogger Chiara Ferragni used her global influence to not only encourage her 19.3 million Instagram followers to adhere to stay-at-home orders but also to raise four million euros in under a week for the San Rafaelle intensive care unit.
The virus has tumulted the workforce, as retail workers face layoffs and furloughs, and small businesses struggle to stay afloat. Vogue and the CFDA partnered together to launch A Common Thread, “a fundraising initiative that tells of the struggles and hopes of the fashion community.” AMUZE, an online retailer who sells discounted, authentic luxury items on its website and Instagram, is now featuring small fashion business’ products on their Instagram to almost 90,000 followers. The company is also facilitating a project that converts old designer dust bags into face masks. Although these masks are not medical grade, AMUZE is selling the repurposed materials to the general public as the CDC updates its guidelines and donating the proceeds to fight coronavirus.
Many fashion publications are scratching the content they had planned for their latest issue, and instead, using the platform to acknowledge the current state of existence. Vogue Italia printed its first-ever blank, white cover for its April issue and focusing content on life after the pandemic and calling on creatives to continue innovation in this new reality. Editor-in-Chief Emanuele Farneti offered different symbolism behind using the color white, concluding, “above all: white is not surrender, but a blank sheet waiting to be written, the title page of a new story that is about to begin.” Similarly, Vogue Portugal shared a powerful image on its April cover, as seen below. Aside from a photograph, the publication considers this a historical document. Editor-in-Chief Sofia Lucas writes, “2020’s freedom will be recognized as this: in confinement.” Many other publications are adapting both their print and digital platforms to discuss the truth, the ugly, and the hopeful content surrounding the pandemic.
Overall, it is very humbling and encouraging to see the fashion industry, facing its own struggles and uncertainties, come together both to fight the pandemic and to support the global community. In this unprecedented time, we see the power of people and the importance of community who, despite not being physically together, are putting personal motives aside to unite.
Note: This article highlights just a few figures' and brands' actions - many more are also making great contributions to fight the pandemic.